Sicilian Vanilla Black Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

sicilianvanillaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

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

Tea Description:

Do vanilla beans grow in Italy? We like to think so. Regardless, this black tea is blended with fine English oils made from Italian citrus fruits and sweet extracts, mixed with grade-A Madagascar vanilla beans (plus fine vanilla extract for an extra boost), and the unique savory scent of helichrysum flowers. Sicilian Vanilla is a great blend for the citrus lover, the vanilla lover, or the black tea lover! This blend is part of the Original 20 M&K’s Blends.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Hmm … tasty!  Not at all what I expected, but then, I think when I saw “Vanilla” in the name of the tea, I immediately think, “OK, this is a vanilla tea.”  I didn’t expect the other flavors in this, although had I read the description prior to tasting, I would have!

This tastes more like something rich and dessert-y, like a fancy dessert from a European bakery than it does a straightforward vanilla black tea.  And that’s not a bad thing, not at all!  It’s a very yummy thing!

The description of this tea on Etsy doesn’t go into detail about what teas are used as the base.  It only says a “blend of black teas.”  Based on what I’m tasting, I’m going to guess that there is some Assam in this blend.  I taste a good bit of malty and I also taste a hint of Assam bitterness.  As for other teas, I suspect a Ceylon because I’m getting a Ceylon sort of taste in there too … but I’m less certain of the Ceylon than I am of the Assam.

To flavor this tea, M&K’s used vanilla bean as well as vanilla flavoring, Fiori di Sicilia flavoring and Pannetone flavoring.  Fiori di Sicilia is an extract that is used in Italian baking that has a bit of vanilla, orange and floral essence.  I can taste each of these flavors.  The vanilla is the strongest note of these flavors, with the yummy baked bread taste of the pannetone, and hints of citrus that are especially noticeable at the finish and in the aftertaste.

The floral notes are probably my least favorite aspect of this tea, because it gives the cup an almost ‘artificial’ taste.  However, the floral taste from the Fiori di Sicilia is barely noticeable and something that is easy to overlook given the yumminess of the rest of the tea.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this blend and I’m glad I got to try it.

Honey Vanilla Chamomile Herbal Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

HoneyVanillaChamomileTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

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

Tea Description:

Egyptian chamomile, sweet licorice root roasted in honey, and grade-A Madagascar vanilla beans! This is a great herbal infusion for the late night: perfect for relaxing. Our Honey Vanilla Chamomile is just that: honey (with licorice root), vanilla, chamomile. Nothing else. This blend is part of the Original 20 M&K’s Blends. Note: Honey Vanilla Chamomile contains no tea, as it is an herbal infusion. We chose to include the term “herbal tea” in the title due to its categorical popularity.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a little while (at least a week or so!) since I last had chamomile and tonight I’m in need of relaxation:  chamomile style!  So, I grabbed this Honey Vanilla Chamomile blend from M&K’s Tea Company.

To brew it, I poured the contents from the sampler pouch into the basket of my Kati tumbler and added 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F.  I let it steep for eight minutes.

The aroma is distinctly chamomile, but I can also pick up on the notes of honey and licorice root.  The vanilla notes are not as noticeable but there is a very faint vanilla fragrance.

Wow!  I’m liking this.  The licorice root is the strongest flavor here, but the often sharp flavor of the licorice is softened somewhat by the honey roasting.  And I like the honey in this, it complements the natural honey-like flavors of the chamomile.

The chamomile is also prominent.  It has that expected honeyed, apple-y flavor.  I like the way the zesty, warm flavor of the licorice contrasts with the softer, lighter flavor of the chamomile.  It’s a really unique flavor combination, but it’s working for me.

The vanilla is the softest flavor of this blend, but I do taste a subtle sweet and creamy note from the vanilla bean.  It may be the softest flavor here but it ties everything together.  I don’t think this blend would taste quite the same without that whisper of vanilla.

I drank this while it was hot.  I’m not a big fan of chilled chamomile.  But, I did find that after the tea cooled slightly – still warm but not piping hot – the flavors seemed to become slightly more seamless.  It was like the vanilla came forward a bit more and softened everything just a little more.  The licorice seemed smoother, and the other flavors seemed to meld together to create a very unified flavor.

I know not everyone out there is a big fan of licorice root – if you’re one of them, this tisane isn’t for you.  But if you like that snappy flavor of licorice, you should give this herbal tea a try.  I found it to be quite delightful and it also does what it’s supposed to do:  it helped me relax!  It’s a very soothing, calming drink that doesn’t taste like every other chamomile blend out there.  Bonus points for that!

M&K’s earns another thumbs up from me for this blend.

Tezpur Estate Assam Black FBOP Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

tezpurAssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

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

Tea Description:

India Assam region is home to some of the world’s grandest teas. Our Tezpur estate Assam tea is a great, brisk, and malty tea. It’s great for the morning and relaxing in the evening, try it any time.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh … lovely.  (Imagine satisfied sigh here.)

This is the kind of Assam that I absolutely adore.  It’s bold and malty.  It’s smooth.  It’s not bitter.  (I’m sure it would be bitter if it were brewed too long, it’s always important to watch the brew time with Assam teas, it’s been my experience that they’re not a very forgiving sort of tea.)

It’s mildly sweet yet it has a certain invigorating, bracing flavor that I want as my first cup of the day!

To brew this tea, I used my Kati Tumbler.  I tend to like my teas a little on the stronger side, and the amount of tea that was in my sampler from M&K’s appeared to be enough for a weak brewing in my Breville or a strong brewing in my Kati, and I opted for the strong brewing in my Kati.

I poured the contents of the sampler into the basket (save just under 1/2 teaspoon which I added to my “breakfast tea” tin – a tin that I keep with small remnants of black tea that are too much to throw away but not enough to brew a cuppa, so I put the small amount of tea into the tin until there’s enough for a pot of tea).  Then I heat the water to 205°F (I tend to go with a slightly lower temperature with Assam – remember, they’re a little finicky) and poured 12 ounces of water into the tumbler and let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes.  Perfection!

The rich tasting tea doesn’t need additions – it tastes great served straight!  But, if you’re one who likes a little honey or sugar and milk in your breakfast tea, this tea would certainly take those additions well.  It would make a marvelously rewarding latte!

To brew a latte, I recommend steeping it a little strong – instead of taking out that aforementioned just under 1/2 teaspoon of tea to add to the breakfast tea tin, keep it in the basket so that you have a strong brewed tea.  The key for stronger tea that tastes great isn’t to steep it longer, it’s to add more leaf.  Steeping it longer will produce a stronger tea, but it will also produce a more tannic brew:  tannic = bitter.  Use a little extra leaf and steep for the 2 1/2 minutes.  Then add the dollop of honey or other sweetener of your choice and some steamed milk for a yummy morning latte!

The sip starts out strong and I taste the sweet, caramel-y notes immediately.  Then I start to taste some of the stronger, more rugged earthy notes, hints of leather and fruit notes.  The fruit notes remind me of raisin and dried stone fruit – like the sugary sweetness from a dried plum.

As I continue to sip on this tea, the astringency does build.  It started out with barely any astringency, but now I am getting a distinct dryness on my palate at the very tail of the sip and in the aftertaste, my palate feels like it’s been patted dry with a soft cloth.  Like it’s preparing me for another sip.

The description above suggests that this would make a good evening tea, but, I don’t know that this is a tea that I could drink very late into the evening.  It would keep me awake and alert for a couple of hours.  It’s got some gusto!

For a breakfast tea though – this is the stuff!  It’s awesome!

Moroccan Mint Green Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

MoroccanMintTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

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

Tea Description:

A popular tea prepared in the North Africa region, Moroccan Mint is prepared with fresh spearmint leaves and Chinese gunpowder green tea, which is tightly rolled into small pellets. Lemon Verbena is also used to give it a little taste of lemon flavor. We recommend this tea sweetened.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I received this Moroccan Mint Green Tea as part of my Wintertime Sampler Pack that I ordered from M&K’s.  This isn’t a special “seasonal” tea but it is one of the most unique Moroccan Mint teas that I’ve ever tasted!

What makes this one so special?  Well, like some of the best Moroccan Mint teas I’ve tried, the tea base for this is a Chinese Gunpowder Green.  To give it the “Mint” – M&K’s chose not just one minty herb, but two:  spearmint and peppermint.  But then they added Lemon Verbena to give it just a hint of citrus.  That bright, sunny note of lemon gives this crisp, minty drink just the burst of flavor it needs to make it just a little different.

The citrus-y tone isn’t a loud flavor.  It doesn’t overwhelm the flavors that make a Moroccan Mint tea what it should be.  It just adds a little extra to the cup.  I like that!

The Gunpowder green is a smooth green tea with hints of earth.  It’s not overly vegetal.  I think I mentioned in a previous review that I like the combination of gunpowder green teas with mint – that in my mind, this is the making of a true “Moroccan Mint” tea.  Other Moroccan Mint teas that use other teas as a base just seem to miss the mark for me.  It’s a little earthy but not too grassy or vegetative.  It has a light smoky tone in the background.  I find these flavors to be a nice contrast to the cool, crisp notes of the mint without it tasting too “herbaceous.”

I also enjoy the combination of spearmint and peppermint in this blend.  I usually prefer peppermint because it’s a bit more zesty than spearmint, but I like the way these two work together to provide a minty taste to this cup without it tasting too minty.  I’m not drinking mouthwash, I’m drinking tea.  And this tastes like tea with a fresh, cool minty taste.  Perfect.

This is one of the best Moroccan Mint teas I’ve tasted – and in my years as a tea reviewer, I’ve tasted quite a few!

Classic Earl Grey Black Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

EarlGreyMKTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

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

Tea Description:

That classic Earl Grey taste. Our classic version uses just two ingredients: tea and bergamot extract. The kind folks over at the Uva Halpewatte tea estate grow an extra smooth, light, and sweet black tea, perfect for complimenting the sweetness of the bergamot orange!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Hmm.  When I opened the pouch, I have to say that I was a little disappointed.  Where’s my bergamot?  I want bergamot and I want the bergamot to be evident when I open the package of tea.  I want that big gust of BERGAMOT essence to blow me away.  Didn’t get that when I opened this package.  I’m hoping that the bergamot will show up after the tea is brewed.

To brew it, I used my trusty Kati tumbler.  I measured 1 bamboo scoop of loose leaf tea into the basket, and then I added 12 ounces of boiling water.  I let the tea steep for 3 minutes.

The aroma smells more like Ceylon tea than it does bergamot.  Again, I have to ask:  Where’s my bergamot?

Then I taste it.


Well, I’m bummed out.

I taste very little bergamot.  As in next to no bergamot.  This is the Earl Grey tea for those of you out there who don’t like bergamot.  Then again, why are you looking for an Earl Grey tea if you don’t like bergamot?

But for this bergamot lover, I’m left feeling a little let down.  Maybe more than a little.  I love me some bergamot, and there really isn’t much bergamot to speak of in this tea.

I can taste hints of orange in the background, and it’s difficult to say if that orange note that I’m tasting is from the UVA Halpewatte Ceylon tea (because quite a few Ceylon teas have a natural ‘citrus-y’ note to them), or if that’s supposed to be the bergamot.

In the aftertaste, I am getting notes of bergamot.

As for the Ceylon tea, it’s a pleasant tasting tea.  It starts out smooth and finishes with a moderate astringency.  A medium-bodied tea with that brisk flavor that I generally associate with a Ceylon.  Notes of citrus in the background (again, not sure if that’s the tea or if it’s supposed to be the bergamot) and a subtle floral note.  The aftertaste of the Ceylon is clean which allows me to notice the faint presence of the bergamot.

The bergamot does come forward just a little as the tea cools off a little bit.  To be honest, it tastes more like orange than it does bergamot and its still not punching me in the mouth.  I expect a strong PUNCH of bergamot when I drink an Earl Grey tea and I’m just not getting that, even after some cooling time.

Sorry M&K’s … I’ve enjoyed most of the teas that I’ve tried thus far but this one just isn’t doing it for me.  They can’t all be winners, I suppose, it saddens me that the one that fails me is one of my favorite of three tea flavors (the others being chocolate and a tie between caramel and vanilla.  And jasmine.)  OK, so I have more than 3 favorite tea flavors.

This is the ideal Earl Grey tea for those of you who like your bergamot on the subtle side.  But if you’re like me and want the tea to be unmistakably bergamot-ish, then this one might be a bit of a disappointment for you.

Please don’t let that stop you from trying other teas from this company though, they have a nice selection of teas and I’ve enjoyed many of the others that I’ve tried.  Plus … they have fantastic customer service!