Earl Grey Tea from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

PipersEarlGreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Made with the finest China teas including a large portion of white tips (the most prized leaf of the plant) and blended with the highest quality Sicilian oil of bergamot available.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the last of the four teas that Pipers Loose Leaf sent to me, and it would appear that I saved the best for last.  I liked a couple of the teas that they sent me and I really enjoyed the Red Grey that I tried which kind of surprised me because I don’t usually think I’ll enjoy a ‘rooibos’ Earl Grey.  That one was quite nice.

But this Earl Grey Tea from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea is the best one that I tried from them.  First of all, the dry leaf!  It’s beautiful!  The leaves are whole and large.  They’re chocolate brown and wiry and there are several ‘white tips’ in there too.  Beautiful.  The aroma is strong and distinctly bergamot and you know that I loved that.

To brew the tea, I used my Breville One-Touch and measured 2 bamboo scoops of the tea into the basket.  Then I added 500ml of water to the kettle and set the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and the temperature for 205°F.

No real reason for choosing 205° over the boiling temperature of 212°F except that I felt more comfortable using a slightly lower temperature with all the white tips in the tea.  I don’t know that the slightly lower temperature would make all that much difference, and really, there were probably 4 white tips that were among the many chocolate brown leaves in the basket, so I doubt that their presence in the basket would have deemed necessary a slightly lower temperature.  But I also didn’t figure that seven degrees below boiling would have made all that much difference to the ability of the black leaves to release their flavor fully.  So I just went with my gut and my gut told me to use 205°F.  So that’s what I did.

Nice.  The bergamot flavor is a bit on the subtle side.  The aroma was quite strong and led me to think that this would be a very bergamot-y cup.  Don’t get me wrong, the bergamot is THERE and it’s quite wonderful.  It’s just a bit softer than the dry leaf aroma would led me to believe it would be.

What makes this particular tea so nice is the way the black tea comes through.  It’s a rich, malty black tea.  It has a pleasantly thick texture to it and it has a solid, full flavor.  Nicely round.  And really quite smooth!  There is very little astringency to this, even as I focus on trying to find the astringency to this tea, I find very little.  Just a very slight dry note toward the finish.  It’s so very slight that when I take the sip, I don’t notice it unless I am trying to find it.  A smooth, robust delivery from start to finish.

The bergamot is softer, as I mentioned, but it’s a pleasant sweet-tangy citrus taste.  It’s bright and invigorating.  I know that Earl Grey is a popular tea to go ‘latte’ with, but I don’t know that I’d suggest doing that with this particular Earl Grey, because I think that the milk or cream might overwhelm the bergamot flavor.  I find that the bergamot develops as I continue to sip and now that I’m just past the halfway point in my cup, the flavor is stronger than when I first started.

It’s still not as strong as some of the more boldly flavored bergamot teas I’ve had in the past, and not quite as strong as the aforementioned Red Grey that I tasted a few days ago.  But, even though that Red Grey was stronger – bergamot wise – I find myself still preferring this tea to that one because I like the way the bergamot plays with the black tea notes here.

This is lovely.   My adoration of a good Earl Grey is no secret by now, I’m sure!  And this is a good one.  I don’t know that it would be able to eek it’s way into my ‘top 3’ or even my top 5.  But, I’m enjoying it and I’d be happy to drink it again.

Red Grey Tisane from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

RedGreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Roiboos

Where to Buy:  Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

A caffeine free version of Earl Grey using the finest Rooibos enhanced with organic Sicilian bergamot oil resulting in an absolutely delicious rich, flowery tea with bright citrus notes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve sampled some decent tasting Earl Grey inspired rooibos blends and some not so decent tasting Earl Grey inspired rooibos blends, and I think I’ve probably tried more not so decent ones than decent.  So when it comes to trying one that I haven’t yet tasted, I tend to be a little hesitant because the memories of the not so decent ones outweigh the decent ones.

So, I was a little hesitant to try this Red Grey Tisane from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea – but fortunately, this tea surpassed my expectations.  This is really quite good!

The sweet, nutty flavor of the rooibos complements the bright citrus notes of the bergamot really well.  The bergamot is not overdone and I think it’s important to note that because with bergamot, when overdone, it can end up tasting soapy.  Here, there is just enough bergamot flavor to add a tangy-sweet flavor to the cup without it tasting soap-ish.

And while I’m not often a fan of the flavor of rooibos, I like the way the nutty flavors go with the bergamot.  The earthy flavor of the rooibos balances out that zesty flavor of the bergamot nicely.  Hints of flower add some dimension to the tea.

Overall, a very pleasant cuppa.

Jasmine Green Tea from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

jasminepipersTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Piper’s Loose Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

A delicate tea, our unique JASMINE blend is made with the finest Japanese Sencha (pan fired green tea), whole jasmine flower blossoms and enhanced with pure jasmine oil.  Take a moment out of your day to savor its sweet aroma and classical floral tastes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I just received the most lovely package from Piper’s Loose Leaf Tea.  When I contacted them, they asked me which teas I’d be most interested in and I noticed they had a jasmine green so I told them that I usually enjoy jasmine.

piper presentationSo I want to start by telling you about the packaging of Piper’s Loose Leaf Tea, because I’m a sucker for awesome packaging.  The teas arrive in a large muslin pouch like the one on the right.  They even took the time to write a note card to me.  I appreciate little gestures like that.  It means a lot when a tea company takes the time to do something as simple as writing a few words onto a thank you card.  It’s a simple thing to do but it means a lot and it’s something that a lot of tea companies overlook.

Note:  the muslin pouch can be reused as pu-erh storage.

jasminecardInside the pouch is a bag of tea, in this case, Jasmine tea.  There’s also a business-card sized card that tells you which tea it is, the description of the tea and suggested brewing parameters.

Then I read the card.

I wish I would have read the description of the tea before I told them that I like jasmine tea because this description is scaring me just a little bit.  First of all, Japanese Sencha?  Traditionally, a jasmine tea is made with Chinese green tea.  So, I find myself puzzled by this choice.  But, hey, it could still work.

But then I read this:

enhanced with pure jasmine oil

Here’s the thing.  I have said (often) that the best jasmine teas are the ones that have been layered with the jasmine blossoms while they’re in the freshly harvested stage.  Before they’re shipped out to us here in the states.  While they’re still there in China, those tender leaves are processed with jasmine blossoms.  They are scented with the essence of jasmine.  They aren’t flavored with jasmine oil.

I love flavored tea.  I’ve enjoyed many a flavored tea and I’m working to take over a tea company that specializes in making a brand new flavored tea every week, so you know I’m not one to turn my nose up on a flavored tea.

But there are some oils that should never be used on teas.  One of them is jasmine oil.  This is an essential oil that is used for perfumes and similar uses.  Not for tea.  Never for tea.  Using jasmine oil on a tea turns a perfectly good tea into something that tastes of perfume.

On the other hand, a scented jasmine tea (that is, the tea that’s been layered with the jasmine blossoms) doesn’t taste of perfume.  It tastes lightly, delicately, beautifully of jasmine.  It’s a sweet and exotic taste but not soapy or perfume-ish.

So I sit here, before I’ve even brewed the tea, in turmoil and worry.  Fearful that I’m about to brew a cup of perfume.  But it’s not like it’s going to kill me.  I might as well give it a try.

To brew this tea, I used my Breville One-Touch.  I added 2 bamboo scoops of tea to the basket and 500ml of water to the jug.  Then I set the parameters:  since I could see that this was indeed a Japanese Sencha, I set the temperature to 170°F and the timer for 1 minute.

I also thought that by setting the timer for just 1 minute, that maybe I wouldn’t get too much of the jasmine ‘oil’ (aka perfume) taste and maybe just get some of the jasmine essence that I want from a Jasmine tea.

And I was right.  I got just enough of the Sencha flavor from the 1 minute steep and not too much of the jasmine oil.  I get a light, jasmine-y flavor without a perfume-y taste.

The Sencha is light and buttery.  Smooth and not overly astringent.  It isn’t bitter or too grassy.

Given all my misgivings and uncertainty about this blend, this is actually pretty good when prepared according to the above parameters.  It made me a little curious about if I had steeped it for the suggested 2 minutes.

In the meantime, I’m happy enough with this cup of tea that I thought I’d try a second infusion of the leaves, adding 30 seconds onto the steep time.  With the second infusion, I started to pick up on more jasmine oil.  It didn’t taste perfume-y, exactly, but it tasted like maybe someone put a drop of jasmine oil in my Japanese Sencha and I didn’t really enjoy it.  I much prefer a scented jasmine.

Overall, this is alright.  It’s drinkable, but it’s not something I’d recommend.

Pipers Chai from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

PiperschaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Black tea infused with black pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla and orange flavor.  Add milk and your preferred sweetener or sweetened condensed milk for a rich, spicy chai. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Pipers Chai from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea is the first tea from this new-to-me company that I’ve tried.  I was in the mood for something satisfying and warming from the inside out and this tea certainly fits the bill.

I brewed this chai in my Kati tumbler, using 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of tea and 12 ounces of boiling water.  I steeped it for three minutes, and it produced a really strong, warming cup of tea!  Nice!

The black tea is a robust black tea.  The description doesn’t tell me what type of tea is used here, but I think – based upon the richness of the tea – it’s an Assam.  There are also some faint notes of bitterness which hint further at the Assam.

The spices are bold.  There’s a lot of clove in there though.  I find myself tasting more clove than any other spice.  The cinnamon and cardamom are warm and the ginger and pepper add some kick to it.  I think it would be better if the clove were not quite as strong so that the other spices could shine through better, it might make for a more balanced spicy note.

The vanilla is the best part of this blend.  It adds a nice creaminess to this and accentuates the malt notes of the black tea base.  It softens some of the edges to the tea and it gives a slight ‘latte’ taste to the cup without going latte with a dairy addition.  It also adds a pleasant sweetness so you don’t have to add too much in the way of sweetener to this (I suggest tasting before you sweeten so you don’t add too much and overwhelm the tea.)

The orange is a nice flavor here too, however, I think it could be even better without it.  I don’t mind the orange, it tastes good with the orange notes, but I think that it detracts a little bit from the spice and I find myself wanting to focus more on the spice and a little less on the citrus.

Overall, I enjoyed this chai.