Honeysuckle Pu-erh Tea from The Persimmon Tree

Honeysuckle Pu-erhTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

The Honeysuckle pu-erh tea delivers a deep red infusion with a sweet woodsy, floral aroma. The finished brew is mild and earthy, with a lingering hint of honeysuckle. This honeysuckle tea can be steeped multiple times in a sitting without becoming bitter. This particular pu-erh is cooked and has been aged for about 4-6 years. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I first opened the tin of this Honeysuckle Pu-erh Tea from The Persimmon Tree, I got worried.  The earthy aroma was STRONG and this is the kind of earthy that I find very unappealing when it comes to pu-erh tea.  But, I tried to keep an open mind.  So I brewed the tea.

To brew it, I grabbed my gaiwan.  I measured a bamboo scoop of tea into the bowl of the gaiwan and heated the kettle to 190°F.  I poured just enough of the hot water to cover the leaves and I let that steep for 15 seconds and then poured off the liquid and discarded it.  (The rinse!)  Then I filled the gaiwan with water and let it steep for 30 seconds.  Usually, I let my first infusion steep for 45 seconds, but the tea had gotten really dark by 30 seconds, so I decided to stop at 30 seconds.  I strained the tea into a teacup.

The fragrance of the brewed tea is softer than the dry leaf.  It still has some of that unpleasant earthiness to it.  I’m not getting a “sweet woodsy, floral aroma” as the description above suggests.  I’m getting a damp wood and earth aroma.  So, the worry that I felt before when I first opened the tin, it was returning.

But I took a sip and hoped for the best.

And fortunately, this tastes far less earthy than it smells.  I’m getting those sweet, woodsy elements and hints of flower that I’m missing in the brewed aroma in the flavor.  It’s a mellow tasting pu-erh with notes of earth but not overwhelmingly so.  Mostly what I taste is a nice, sweet caramel-y undertone with a top note of flower.  I don’t know if it’s honeysuckle that I taste during the sip, but I do taste a distinct floral note.  And the aftertaste, yes, I do taste the honeysuckle there.

The aftertaste is my favorite part of this tea because I am really enjoying that lingering flavor of honeysuckle.  It’s sweet, floral and really quite pleasant.

I only steeped my second infusion for 30 seconds as well, because it had already become even darker than the first cup was at 30 seconds.  This is a tea that I recommend keeping an eye on while it’s brewing!

This infusion was deeper in flavor.  The earthy qualities were a little stronger but not so strong that I found it off-putting.  In this cup, I noted flavors of leather, mushroom and raw cacao.  I still got that honeysuckle note in the aftertaste.  I’m tasting a little less of a caramel-y taste and a little more of a molasses flavor, instead.  Very deep flavor, very mellow and pleasant to sip.

Later infusions got deeper in flavor until they weren’t.  When I started to realize that the flavors were becoming lighter, I stopped steeping.  I lost count after six, but if I had to guess, I’d say I got nine infusions out of one measurement of leaves.

So this tea started out questionably with a rather unpleasant dry leaf aroma and even a slightly uncertain brewed tea scent, but the flavor is quite enjoyable.  I’m happy that there wasn’t a briny, fishy or overpowering earthy flavor to this pu-erh.  Nice.

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 (Part 1)

yunomi2I received my Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club package the other day and I was excited to get started!  This month, the teas are focused on ’tisanes’ – herbal blends from various Japanese tea companies.

Since this is a tisanes package and not Camellia Sinensis, I won’t be featuring part two of this series tomorrow night.  This is because I don’t usually drink more than 1 tisane per day, so I need time to consume these teas and write about them!

This month’s package included Yomogi herbal tea which is a Japanese Mugwort tea, Longevity herbal blend which is a blend of 18 Japanese herbs, Mulberry leaf tea which has been prepared Sencha style, Organic hatomugicha which is also called “Job’s Tears” and finally, Organic mugicha which is a barley tea.  Of the five, the Mugicha is what I look forward to most, as I’m quite fond of barley tea.

Also in this month’s package was another cute origami Crane … I’m getting a little collection of these!  The usual booklet which offers some information about each of the teas was not included but we received an email from Yunomi explaining that the booklet would arrive separately a little later.

The first tea that I’m going to try is the Longevity Herbal Blend from Nakazen.  I was happy to see that this tea included Camellia Sinensis in the form of Oolong tea.  Here is a list of the ingredients:

Barley tea, job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, cat’s whiskers (herb), dokudami (herb), oolong tea, tumeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, mikan (Japanese mandarin) peels, brown rice, pine leaves, ohbako, benibana, persimmon leaves, amachazuru, sarunokoshikake (fungi), cinnamon

18 Herbs for Longevity from Nakazen

The aroma of the dry leaf is very herb-y.  It sort of reminds me of walking into one of those apothecary shops.  The brewed tea has more of a ‘medicinal’ type of fragrance, still smelling very apothecary-ish but the herbal notes are medicinal smelling.

The taste is actually quite enjoyable.  It has a roasted flavor to it.  It’s toasty and warm.  Very nice on a chilly night!

The roasted flavor I attribute to the barley in the tea.  I also taste the brown rice, it lends a warm and nutty flavor to the cup.  I taste the resinous notes of pine leaves and I taste the warm spiced notes of cinnamon.  I taste hints of tumeric and I don’t know if I actually taste the Oolong, but I can feel it’s contribution – the texture of the tea has that wonderful, thick Oolong-ish mouthfeel.

The other herbs of this tea, I’m not sure what flavor profile to fit with which herb because they are herbs that I am – for the most part – quite unfamiliar with.  I would like to say, though, that even though the aroma strongly suggests an herbaceous, medicinal flavor, I smell more of that herb-y medicine-y flavor than I taste.  For the most part, what I taste is the barley’s contribution to this tea – I taste that warm, roasty-toasty flavor and that’s quite fine with me – I’m really enjoying this!

SONY DSCThe second tisane that I’ll be sampling – and the last for this, part 1 of the Yunomi Discoveries Club, Volume 17 review – is the Japanese Mugwort Tea from Yomogi-Cha.  The word “Mugwort” makes me think of Harry Potter and Nightmare before Christmas.  It sounds like something that Professor Snape would put in a potion or something that Sally would put in Doctor Finklestein’s soup.

This particular herbal doesn’t appear to be available on Yunomi’s site at the moment.

The dry leaf looks a lot like a dried salad.  The leaves are large and fluffy and there are some stems in there too.  The steeping parameters suggest using 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of water.  I brewed this in my Kati tumbler which holds 12 ounces (so 1 1/2 cups of water) so I figured, close enough.  Because these leaves are so fluffy and large, I eyeballed what looked like a tablespoon of leaf and put that in the basket of my tumbler and poured in 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F and let it steep for 4 minutes.  (The suggested parameters are 3 – 5 minutes.)

Having never tried Mugwort tea (at least, not to my recollection), I was not sure what to expect.  The aroma of the brewed tea is very grassy/leafy, evoking thoughts of what it might smell like if I were to steep some fresh lawn clippings.

The taste is very much like what the aroma suggests.  It’s an interesting combination of bitter and sweet.  It’s very herbaceous but not so much in an herbal sort of way, it’s more a grassy sort of herbaceous.  There is a light buttery note which is kind of nice.  There is some sweetness.  Overall, it’s not an unpleasant tasting drink, it’s just quite different from what I’m used to tasting and I’m not finding myself really enjoying it.

In other words, I don’t hate it but I don’t really like it either.

From what I understand, Japanese Mugwort tea is useful for detox and weight loss.  I don’t know if that’s true or not because I’m just drinking one cup of the stuff and that’s hardly enough to gauge whether or not it will work in this capacity.  I am noticing a warming sort of effect though.

Overall, it’s alright.  If I were going to drink this on a regular basis, I think I’d want to add something to it, perhaps a thin slice of lemon or some mint – something to perk up the flavor a little bit so that I’m tasting less of that strong grassy sort of flavor.  Not my favorite.

Citron Maté Blend from The Persimmon Tree

citronmateTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

This aromatic and refreshing cocktail of yerba maté, lemongrass, orange peel, and lemon myrtle is the perfect tonic after a workout or tiring day. Citron Maté is a stimulating brew that can give you a little caffeine boost without the shakes or crash that can follow. Try it sweetened over ice with fresh lime juice for a refreshing summer treat!

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

For my first cup of the day, I generally prefer a good, strong cup of black tea.  However, there are some mornings when I need a little more than the caffeine boost that the black tea can give you, and on days like that, I often turn to Yerba Mate.

Yerba Mate has more caffeine than tea.  It’s more like coffee when it comes to caffeine.  But with Yerba Mate, I don’t get the jitters or the sickly feeling a few hours after drinking it the way I do with coffee. Yerba Mate is a big win when it comes to a caffeine fix.

And I’m really enjoying this Yerba Mate blend from Persimmon Tree.  It has a sweet, citrus-y flavor that perks up the earthy, vegetative flavor of the Mate in a very agreeable way.

To brew this tisane, I used my Breville One-Touch.  I measured 3 bamboo scoops of tisane into the basket of the tea maker (I generally like to use a little more leaf when it comes to tisanes) and added 500ml of freshly filtered water to the jug.  Then I set the parameters:  185°F – usually I go with 195°F for yerba mate tisanes but because this is a green yerba mate, I thought I’d take this opportunity to “test out” a slightly lower temperature for the green yerba mate – and 10 minutes steep time.  Because yerba mate is low in tannins, a longer steep time will result in a fuller flavor without bitterness.

I’m quite pleased with the result!  The flavor is sweet and citrus-y with notes of orange and a sweet hint of lemon and lime.  There is a light, creamy flavor that I’m tasting that melds nicely with these citrus notes.  The citrus isn’t a strong presence, in fact, I think I’d like a little more citrus to this (and I’d recommend serving it with a thin slice of whatever citrus fruit you might have on hand!) but it does add a lovely little accent of bright flavor.

It’s very “morning” bright – this cup of Citron Mate!

The yerba mate has a fresh, vegetative taste with earthy background notes.  It has a smooth flavor and isn’t bitter or astringent.  Smooth from beginning to finish!  I know that some people have remarked that they find yerba mate to be a tad on the bitter side, but to these people I recommend a slightly lower brewing temperature.  When I steeped yerba mate at a boiling temperature, I would experience bitterness too, but since I’ve dropped the temperature to 185° – 195° F, I find that I get a smooth, bitter-free taste from every cup of yerba mate now!

If you’re looking for a vibrant way to start your day, you should give this Citron Mate from The Persimmon Tree a try!  It’s tasty!

White Chai from The Persimmon Tree

White ChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

Our white chai is perfectly blended with white tea, chai spices, lemongrass, coconut, fruit pieces and peppercorn for a delicious bold taste. It comprises sweetness from the fruit pieces fused with a bold kick from chai spices and peppercorn.

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  OK, so take everything you know about chai and throw it out the window, because this will challenge your thoughts on what chai should be!  This is a deliciously different chai!

After reading the above description, my first thought is that this tea has a lot going on.  But everything is nicely represented in this cup.  I’m not getting too much of anything and it all works together surprisingly well.

Because it’s crafted using a white tea base, the flavors are kept to that level.  That is to say that the flavors here are blended skillfully so that the delicate flavors of the white tea are not overpowered.  And yes, I can taste the white tea!  It’s got a fresh, light, airy taste with hints of a hay-like flavor.  It’s subtle, yes, but the other flavors of this cup are also kept on a subtle level so that the white tea doesn’t get lost in the mix.

And that’s not to say that the “chai” here is a mild chai, either.  This chai has some kick to it!  The ginger is zesty, the cinnamon is well-defined but not overdone.  The cardamom and clove and pink peppercorn offer warmth.  The “usual chai ingredients” have been utilized here (along with pink peppercorn which is not what I’d classify as a “usual ingredient.”)

With another tea type used as a base, the level of spices used this blend would probably seem a bit on the mellow side, but when combined with a white tea, it becomes rather invigorating and bold!

Then you get the fruit flavors:  coconut, pineapple, apple and lemongrass.   Yeah, I know lemongrass isn’t technically a “fruit,” but because it adds a nice, lemon-lime-ish flavor to a tea, I’m calling it a ‘fruit flavor’ for the purposes of this review.  These sweet fruity notes add a touch of tropical flavor to the cup which is quite enjoyable.

I find myself especially appreciating the coconut because it adds a touch of “creamy” to the cup and because this is a white tea, I didn’t want to go latte with this chai.  But I do still like a touch of creamy to most chai blends, it just seems to make it taste a little more indulgent.  I like that the coconut adds a little bit of that “latte” creaminess to the cup without overwhelming the blend.

It’s a very unique spin on the traditional chai, one that I enjoyed quite a bit!

To brew:  I used my Kati Tumbler (I prefer not to steep chai blends in my Breville because the spices impart their essence in the tea maker that are difficult to remove without soaking in baking soda) and put 1 1/2 bamboo scoops into the basket (remember, I like to use a little extra leaf with a chai as well as with a white tea!) and added 12 ounces of water heated to 170°F.  I steeped it for 3 1/2 minutes.  Perfection!

Assam Gold Black Tea from The Persimmon Tree

AssamGoldTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

This smooth, malty infusion is the perfect alternative to coffee. Assam Gold can be steeped multiple times while retaining its flavor. Golden in color, this import from Northern India is a thick, comfortable black tea brew that warms and energizes after a tough, bitter, cold day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  I love this Assam Gold!  So much malt in one little mug!

Well, OK, my mug isn’t that small, but there’s a whole lot of malt flavor going on in it right now.

I brewed this Assam in my Breville One-Touch.  I know I talk a lot about my tea maker, but seriously, if you drink even half as much tea as I do … even a fourth of the amount of tea that I do (I drink a lot of tea), you really should invest in one of these!

So, yes, I brewed this tea in my Breville, adding 2 bamboo scoops of tea to the basket and pouring 500ml of water into the jug.  I set the parameters for 205°F and 2 minutes.  I generally go just a little lower with both the temperature and the time when it comes to brewing an Assam in my Breville.  Assam teas can be temperamental, and I find that by lowering the temperature just slightly and cutting back on steep time, this reduces the chances of bitterness.

And I don’t know if it’s my brewing, or if this is just one of those Assam teas that is a little less temperamental than others can be, but I’m not even picking up on a hint of bitterness at all with this.  This is smooth from start to finish, and there’s very VERY little astringency to this cup.  That is to say that unless I’m really focusing on trying to detect astringency in this tea, I’m not noticing any.  Only when I’m really focused on it do I pick up on a slight pucker of the inside of my cheeks and a very slight dry sensation.

Mostly what I am experiencing here is MALT!  Sweet caramel-y tones.  A smooth texture – like silk.  (Perhaps spun gold would be a better descriptive for this particular tea?)  There are notes of fruit to this, reminiscent of sweet plums (no tartness to the plum notes), dates and dried raisin.  I am not really tasting so much “raisin” as I’m tasting the sugary sweetness that you might experience form biting into a piece of dried fruit, and a slight “wine-like” note from the grape-y-ness of the raisin.

There are floral notes to this too – off in the distance.  I’m envisioning the gardens where this tea has been grown to be edged by some flowery field and when the breeze comes by and picks up on some of that flowery essence, it delivers that essence to the awaiting tea leaves.  Not a strong presence of flower.  Just a whisper of it.  A breezy note of flower.

This is a really good Assam.  If you’re one who yearns for that malty flavor of an Assam, put this on your to-try list, I think you’ll be pleased with the malty character of this one.