Darjeeling Black Currant Tea from Russian Tea Time

russianteaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Russian Tea Time

Tea Description:

Unique blend of the finest Dareeling and black teas infused with Black currant aroma. The delicate and flavorful taste of this blend will keep your palate satisfied. Drink and enjoy it hot or Iced, all year around.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

russianteaglassRecently, Russian Tea Time sent me a tea party in a box!  They shared with me their amazing Darjeeling Black Currant Tea that I’m going to review here, plus they sent me this gorgeous tea glass from which to drink the tea and they even sent me yummy, buttery shortbread cookies!  Like I said, a tea party in a box!

What makes this particular tea so unique is that it’s Russian Tea Time’s own, unique blend of Darjeeling and Black teas with black currant essence and currant leaves.  Most tea rooms out there are brewing up tea to serve to their customers.  They usually get that tea from other vendors (nothing wrong with that!) but Russian Tea Time is not just brewing up tea to serve to their customers, they’re brewing up their own blend that they created and serving it up with scrumptious treats.

Since I’m not in Chicago, I can’t visit the Russian Tea Room in person, so I’ll just have to imagine what it might be like as I sit here, sipping on this Darjeeling Black Currant Tea from this gorgeous tea glass that they sent to me.  (They also have some other gorgeous tea cups available in their online shop!)

RussianTeaCuppedSo, I brewed up the tea in my Breville One Touch Tea Maker.  When I opened the tin of Loose Leaf tea – they offer this tea in both Loose Leaf and Sachet form, and since I prefer loose leaf, that’s what I chose to try today – I could see that the tea was a CTC leaf.  It’s not a super-fine chop though.  Because the leaf has been cut, I opted for slightly less time for the steep, and set the timer for 2 minutes.  I measured 2 bamboo scoops into the basket of my tea maker and poured 500ml of tea into the jug.  I set the thermometer for 195°F (my go-to temperature for Darjeeling) and let it steep.

The tea is delicious.  I like the base tea.  I can definitely taste the Darjeeling tea – it has a distinctly crisp taste that’s undeniably “Darjeeling-esque”.  The Russian Tea Room doesn’t go into details about the “black teas” that also comprise the base of this tea.  I definitely taste the Darjeeling, but I am also tasting a more substantial tea in there too.  This tea has that crispness and even a hint of muscatel that I’d expect from a Darjeeling, but there is a thicker texture to the tea too and that’s something that I’ve tasted in only a very few Darjeeling teas.  It’s usually a characteristic that I experience from other black teas.

It’s not an overly astringent tea.  This could also have something to do with the fact that I set the tea to steep for only 2 minutes.  But whatever the reason, I am finding this to be really smooth and easy to drink.

The black currant flavor is a subtle taste – it doesn’t overpower the cup or the black tea.  It adds a pleasant, mild fruit flavor that’s a little grape-like and it melds beautifully with the Darjeeling tea’s natural muscatel notes.  It’s not overly tart, but I do experience a slight tart tingle on my tongue in the aftertaste.

This is a really delightful tea.  It tastes great served hot and I suspect it would be a really excellent iced tea too.  (For the record, the cookies were quite tasty too!)

What a lovely day for tea – thank you Russian Tea Time for the chance to enjoy tea time with you!

Serene Herbal Tisane from The Honest Leaf

SereneTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

This tea does exactly what its name promises – brings serenity to your day. Ingredients like chamomile, jasmine and lavender really do have that affect. We taste the apple-like flavours of chamomile, a perfect lemon squeeze and smooth mint. There’s tart and sweet florals playing off one another and hints of relaxing lavender that come out mid-sip.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

After my first few sips of this Serene Herbal Tisane from The Honest Leaf, I found myself contemplating whether or not I actually liked it.  I didn’t dislike it but I wasn’t too sure whether or not I was enjoying what I was tasting.

That is to say, it’s quite unlike other teas I’ve tried.

Now that I’m about halfway through the cup, I can say that yes, I do like this.  It’s different, it’s tasty and I like it.

The flavor starts out quite subtle.  I notice a soft lemon-y note from the lemon peel and flavoring.  This flavor develops over the course of the sip – starting off with a delicate whisper of lemon.  The finish is bright with lemon notes and the aftertaste is quite lemon-y, as if I had just taken a sip of lemonade.  The aftertaste lingers a while.

After the subtle introduction of lemon, I pick up on flowery notes of jasmine, lavender and passion flower just before mid-sip.  These floral notes are also quite subdued.  They don’t develop the way the lemon does, but I do pick up on a few more floral notes mingling with the lemon notes in the aftertaste.

Just after mid-sip, I notice the crisp peppermint.  I like that the peppermint follows the example set by the flowers and lemon and is understated.  The cool peppermint is a nice contrast to the lemon-y flavor, but the mint doesn’t slap you in the mouth with it’s minty presence.  It’s just a slight ‘peppy’ sort of flavor that perks up the flavors of the tea without tasting like someone spilled a little bit of mouthwash in my teacup.

I didn’t really notice the chamomile until I reached mid-cup.  The chamomile is more of an undertone, offering a indistinct apple note and hint of honey.  I can smell more chamomile in this than I can taste.  After the mid-cup point, the chamomile notes develop somewhat, but they never become a strong, prominent profile to the cup.

Happily, I notice no hibiscus in this, unless the hibiscus acts as a ‘tart’ agent to help amplify the tartness of the lemon, because the aftertaste does have a tartness to it.  Not too puckery, though, but as I said, I do get a lemonade-y sort of experience in the aftertaste.

Overall, I found this to be a relaxing, enjoyable cup.  It’s certainly different than the typical ‘nighttime’ type of tisanes, and different is good!

White Vanilla Peppermint Black Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

whitevanillapeppermintTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

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

Tea Description:

Polar bears? Candy canes? It’s that time of the year again! Yay consumerism! Yay tasty things! So hop on board the capitalism train, and try out a bag of our exclusive limited-edition White Vanilla Peppermint black tea blend! It has tea from Australia if you can even believe it. It tastes like a polar bear got into a fight with a mint plant that exploded all over your face. Seriously, try it.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m really enjoying the teas this company I found on Etsy!  The holiday blends are really unique.  I love that they didn’t go the standard orange spice holiday blend route.  Don’t get me wrong!  I enjoy those orange spice blends, but, it’s nice to find something that ventures off the beaten path, you know?

And this blend is different from any other holiday blend I’ve yet to try.  Mint is a popular “holiday” flavor, but M&K’s decided to change the mint a bit by adding licorice to the blend.  I like the way the licorice cuts through some of those strong minty notes to give this more of a candy-like flavor than a mouthwash-y one.  The sweet candy-ish taste is enhanced further with the addition of creamy vanilla.

And let’s not forget the black tea in this – because M&K’s didn’t!  This has a strong, full-flavored black tea base that’s rich and has a hefty impact.  It’s the kind of tea that I imagine I’d want for Christmas morning when my daughter wakes me up at the crack of dawn to open presents.

I like the way everything comes together in this blend.  The peppermint is cool and refreshing.  The licorice adds a sharp, snappy flavor that I like.  The vanilla softens the sharper edges of the licorice and tones down the peppermint a little bit.

The black tea offers a lot of interest to this blend too, I’m tasting hints of smoke.  I like the way that wisp of smoke melds with these other flavors, it sort of tastes like Christmas Day:  it’s around 9 am.  All the presents have been opened and you’re relaxing before you start working on that holiday dinner.  There’s a fire roaring in your fireplace and you’re curled up next to the warmth of the fire and sipping on tea and enjoying something sweet that Santa left you in your stocking.  That’s what this tea tastes like!

It’s a nice (and different) holiday blend!

Lemomila Tisane from Shanti Tea

lemomilaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Shanti Tea

Tea Description:

A simple blend, adding some noted of lemon to a sweet and calming infusion of chamomile. A nice variation for those chamomile lovers out there.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The first thing I notice when I open my packet of Lemomila Tisane from Shanti Tea is the scent of Chamomile.  Peeking inside the package, I can see big chamomile blossoms.  While I’ve never made any big secret that I’m not particularly fond of chamomile, I don’t hate it and I find that the larger the chamomile blossoms, the more I like the tisane.  In other words:  crushed blossoms = not so great, while big, whole blossoms = much better.

And in this tisane, I didn’t see any crushed blossoms at all.  These were big, whole chamomile blossoms mixed with the sweet, citrus-y flavor of lemongrass.

The lemongrass adds a nice brightness to this cup.  The citrus tones are sweet with a tart note that hits the palate towards the end of the sip and lingers on through the aftertaste.  It’s not a strong sour note, though, just a hint of citrus-y tart.  Mostly what the lemongrass provides is a nice contrast to the sweet, apple-like notes of the chamomile.  Notes of honey can also be tasted.

Overall, a very enjoyable way to relax, this Lemomila Tisane from Shanti Tea!

Product Review: Pumpkin Spice Scone Mix from Sticky Fingers Bakeries

Where to Buy:  Sticky Scones Bakeries

Product Description:

Pumpkin pie flavor in just minutes! Rich in premium quality spices and pumpkin flakes. Sure to be a favorite throughout the Holiday Season!

Taster’s Review:

I love scones!  And nothing seems to complete tea time quite like freshly baked scones.   But one thing I don’t really like about scones is what has to go into the baking process – measuring ingredients, kneading the dough… etc.  I want to be able to just add water, stir, drop by the spoonful and bake.

There are a lot of scone mixes out there, and many of them offer you the convenience of the process I just described.  The only problem is that many of them taste like you just added water, stirred, dropped by the spoonful and baked.  In other words, they don’t taste great.

There seems to be just a handful of companies out there that do scone mix right – and Sticky Fingers Bakeries is one of them.  And, they offer so many flavor choices!  I’ve tried several of their flavors, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.  I received this particular package as a gift from a friend – and it was a most welcome gift, indeed.

And the flavor is absolutely DELISH!  These taste a lot like pumpkin pie – in scone form!  I highly recommend eating these with clotted cream – it really elevates the flavor to a whole new level.   Another way to change this one up, should you want to, is to add a handful of chocolate chips.

The texture is so nice with these – they are somewhere between a biscuit and a cake.  Soft,  moist, and absolutely yummy.   And they reheat nicely – just pop them in the microwave for about 10 seconds and you have a nice, warm scone!  YUM!