Provénce Rooibos Blend from The Secret Garden Tea Co.

ProvenceRooibosTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  The Secret Garden Tea Co.

Tea Description:

French lavender, rosebuds, and berries yield a sweet melange.

Ingredients: Rooibos, rosehip, elderberry, and blueberry pieces, lavender, rose petals, natural flavors.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a really lovely melody of flavors.  I like the way the floral notes of lavender and rose contrast with the earthy and nutty flavors of the rooibos and the sweet-tart berry notes of elderberry and blueberry.  It all comes together in a really pleasant way.

To brew this, I used my Breville One-Touch and added 3 bamboo scoops of leaf to the basket (I usually use a little more leaf with herbal tisanes) and 500ml of water to the kettle.  I set the temperature for 195°F (my go-to temperature for most rooibos or honeybush blends as well as other herbal tisanes), and the time for 10 minutes (again, my go-to steep time for rooibos or honeybush blends – except for tisanes with hibiscus in them).

The sip starts with floral notes of lavender and lighter notes of rose.  Almost immediately after I pick up on the lavender and rose, I start to notice the tart notes of elderberry and a hint of sweetness from the blueberry.  A moment later, I start to recognize the honeyed sweetness of the rooibos, followed by the nutty and earthy flavors.  The finish is sweet with fruit and flower tastes, with the floral notes lingering in the aftertaste along with that tingly berry tartness.

It’s a really enjoyable cup and it’s one that I’d recommend to those who feel that rooibos blends are one-note.  This one will change their mind.  There are some really wonderful layers of flavor to it.  The berry flavors as well as the sweet floral notes bring to mind thoughts of spring or summer and this would make a really nice warm weather blend (it’s really quite nice as it cools!) but because I am finding it to be a very calming blend, I think it’s just as appropriate a blend to have in the winter season because let’s face it, we could all use a little bit of calm during this busy holiday season!

Mango Green Tea from The Secret Garden Tea Co.

MangoGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  The Secret Garden Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Green tea blended with juicy Mango. An exotic complement to a chutney turkey sandwich, vegetable quiche, or other buttery delights.

Ingredients: Green tea, pineapple pieces, mallow petals, natural flavors

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I have really enjoyed the teas that I’ve tried from The Secret Garden.  It makes me wish that I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia instead of Vancouver, Washington so that I could visit their tea room and have high tea with them.  I mean seriously, take a look at some of these sweets and savories!  YUM!

Some of the tempting sweets offered during high tea at the Secret Garden!

But since I don’t live in the Vancouver of British Columbia and instead live in the Vancouver of Washington State in the U.S., I must be content with enjoying the lovely teas that they offer and sell online.  Like this Mango Green Tea, for example.

To brew it, I put 2 bamboo scoops of tea in the basket of my Breville One-Touch tea maker and added 500ml of freshly filtered water to the jug.  Then I set the timer for 2 minutes and the temperature for 175° and I let the tea maker do it’s magic.  I came back about five minutes later and a perfectly brewed tea waited for me.

It’s really tasty.  There is a really delightful balance between the fruit flavor and the sweet green tea.  I taste both of these components and neither seems to be competing with the other for the palate’s attention.  They work together quite beautifully.

The green tea looks to me a bit like a Chinese Sencha and it tastes quite a bit like it too.  It’s sweet and buttery and smooth.  I’m picking up on very little to no astringency.  There’s a light vegetal note that melds nicely with the fruit notes.

The mango is sweet and has a flavor that reminds me of fresh mango.  It has a very authentic fruit flavor.  It doesn’t taste overly sweet or artificial.

The fruit bits in the dry leaf are actually dried pineapple rather than dried mango – which was used, I suspect, because dried mango is a little more difficult to come by than dried pineapple.  And since the dried fruit in a tea blend like this really adds very little to the finished flavor, the dried fruit is more for appearance sake than for taste.

And the proof of that is in the taste.  I have attempted to taste pineapple in this and every once in a while I pick up on the slightest – ever so slight! – note of pineapple’s tart.  I can’t even be sure if it’s something I’m actually tasting or if it’s in my head because I’m trying to see if I can taste it.  Really, what I’m tasting is mango.

Delicious mango!

Secret Garden’s Secret Black Tea from The Secret Garden Tea Company

SecretGardenSecretTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Secret Garden Tea Co.

Tea Description:

One of our bestsellers! Vanilla and a secret sweet ingredient. Fruity and dessert-like, it pairs wonderfully with raspberry cheesecake, almond trifle, chocolate mousse, and other sweet treats.

Ingredients: Black tea, natural flavors.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf smells delicious with soft notes of vanilla and a fruity, berry essence.  The brewed tea smells more like black tea.  I can pick up on faint notes of vanilla, but none of the fruity notes that I could smell in the aroma of the dry tea.

I brewed this secret tea in my Breville One-Touch.  I added 2 bamboo scoops of the tea into the basket and poured 500ml of water into the jug and set the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and the temperature to boil (212°F).

Mmm!  This is tasty.  I taste strawberry!  I also taste a very subtle chocolate note along with the touch of vanilla.  The strawberry is sweet but has that tart berry note toward the end of the sip.  The vanilla softens the cup, giving it a smooth and delicately creamy taste and texture.  The chocolate is very subtle.  There’s just enough chocolate in there to make your taste buds perk up and say, “whoa, what was that?  Was that chocolate?”

The black tea has some lovely notes of malt to it.  It’s a rich black tea with a medium-to-full-bodied taste.  There are hints of flower within the layers of flavor from the tea and it has a certain robustness to it – I think that I could reach for this as my first cup of the day and be quite satisfied with it.

I love the way this tea teases and tempts the palate.  I taste strawberry and then it hides from me because the next sip is where I pick up on chocolate.  It’s a fun tea to sip.  And there is another note in this … almost nutty.  I’m not sure if it’s a nuance from the tea or if it’s another secret flavor, but every once in a while, I pick up on a slight “nutty” tone.

After the tea cooled slightly, I could pick up on more of the rich chocolate-y notes and the nutty notes.  It’s really quite a delicious and a fun tea to drink.  I’m really glad I tried this one!

Secret Garden Rooibos Tisane from The Secret Garden Tea Company

SecretGardenRooibosTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  The Secret Garden Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Our secret, scrumptious blend. Perfect afternoon tea or as a digestif after a heavy meal.

Ingredients: Rooibos, safflower and rose petals, blackberry leaves, natural flavors

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This – brewed – smells AMAZING.  I am picking up on distinct vanilla notes.  Creamy and luscious!

And it tastes delightful.  I’ve never made any big secret about the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of rooibos.  I’d much rather sip on camellia sinensis.  But, when I shouldn’t be drinking caffeine (later in the evening) but I still want something “tea-ish,” rooibos is a good alternative.

To brew this tisane, I went with my go-to temperature for rooibos:  195°F and I steeped the tisane for 10 minutes.  Because rooibos doesn’t have the high tannin content of camellia sinensis, you can steep it longer to get the most out of the flavor.  I brewed this in my Breville tea maker, using 2 bamboo scoops of tisane to 500ml of water.

Now, most tea purveyors will tell you that you can (or should) use boiling water for rooibos, but I recommend dropping the temperature slightly.  I find that when I steep rooibos with boiling water, the flavor becomes “funky.”  It has a weird taste that I want to describe as “sour wood.”  Like a tisane that was made out of steeped sour wood and sweetened with saccharine.  I’m not a fan of sour wood (not that I’ve actually tasted it, so I guess I should say that I don’t think of myself as a fan of it) and I really don’t like saccharine.  So, I did some experimentation, and I found that by lowering the steep temperature a little, the saccharine-y sour wood flavor goes away and then I experience rooibos as a sweet, nutty, slightly woodsy flavor that I much prefer to the saccharine sour wood.

I noticed the delightful vanilla fragrance immediately as I began to pour the liquid into my favorite teacup.  And this has a delicious vanilla flavor.  I taste light floral notes as well and hints of berry.  And of course, I do get some notes of nut and honey from the rooibos.

It all comes together in a very delicious way.  It’s smooth and creamy.  The vanilla notes meld with the natural nutty flavors of the rooibos.  The hints of berry tickle the tip of my tongue in the aftertaste.

It’s a very relaxing tisane, and it has a dessert-y taste to it, making this an ideal tisane to choose for after dinner.  (A fat-free dessert substitute, perhaps?)  It’s sweet but not too sweet.

I like this one best served hot.  It doesn’t need any additions, it has a nice sweetness to it without adding anything.  A splash of milk might be nice if you want to enhance the creaminess of it, but I found it to be really pleasant and creamy without the addition of dairy.

Secret Garden from SerendipiTea

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos & Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  SerendipiTea

Tisane Description:

Escape for a short while to a secret place for which you only hold the key.

Ingredients: Chamomile (Organic), Lavender (Organic), Peppermint (Organic), Rooibos (Organic), Rose Petals (Organic)

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the third tea/tisane from my June Steepster Select Box, themed “Around the Clock.” Of the three teas in this month’s box, this was the one I was least excited about, but as it turns out, I really am enjoying this … so much so that this one could easily become a permanent fixture in my cupboard.  Yes, I like it that much!

One glance at the ingredients suggest that this is the evening tea of the Steepster Select Box:  soothing, naturally caffeine-free chamomile and lavender, cool peppermint, and sweet rooibos and rose petals.  This is definitely a tea made for bedtime.

I really like the way the ingredients work together in this blend.  The rose and peppermint offer the strongest flavor, but, they also balance each other out so that it is neither too rosy nor too minty.  The chamomile is subtle, but offers a sweet, apple-like flavor in the background.  And thankfully, the lavender is not overdone here.  I love lavender, but when lavender is too strong it imparts a very perfume-y taste, and while this is strongly floral, it doesn’t taste of perfume.

The rooibos is not a strong flavor here, and I’m okay with that too.  It does offer a slight earthiness to the overall flavor, somewhat nutty and woody, but, these flavors manage to meld together with the stronger floral essences and create a very pleasing taste.  The overall cup is definitely on the feminine side – sweet with exotic floral tones – and I find that helps to give the cup an almost nurturing effect.

I feel very calm and relaxed after sipping on this tea, and I find this enjoyable enough that I could easily enjoy this on a nightly basis.  It’s really quite nice!