Toasted Apple Green Tea by Bluebird Tea Co.

ToastedappleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tea Description:

This blend of roasted green tea, popped rice and toasty apples is a bit of a tea Marmite. Some are addicted to its grassy, savoury taste but it’s not for those with a sweet tooth. Don’t worry though, Genmaicha fans will absolutely love Bluebird’s unique twist on the classic Japanese ‘popcorn’ tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a flavoured genmaicha blend from one of the UK’s few independent tea mixologists – Bluebird Tea Co. This blend has been around since the inception of the company, so it’s one of their “original” teas, so to speak. It’s probably fair to say that they’ve come along in leaps and bounds since then, but this blend stands the test of time.

The dry leaf contains pretty much a 50/50 mixture of toasted brown rice and roasted green tea. The base tea is a blend of Chinese and Japanese greens; the Japanese being Bancha and the Chinese unspecified. The leaves are fairly small – some are darker and rolled into thin tubes, others are a lighter green and folded in appearance. There are some pieces of popcorn, although few compared to some genmaicha blends I’ve tried. There’s a generous smattering of apple cubes throughout.

I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-orange, and smells primarily of sugar puffs, but with an edge of seaweed. An odd combination if ever there was one!

This is a bittersweet blend to taste. The initial sip is quite heavily toasty in flavour, presumably from the rice. It’s not quite burnt toast, but very nearly, and while it’s not acrid, there’s an edge of bitterness that’s heading that way. The mid-sip is sweeter as the apple flavour emerges. It’s a floury, mildly floral apple that puts me in mind of homemade baked apples in the winter, only without the accompanying dried fruit. The apple flavour fades slowly away, leaving the slightly dank-tasting green tea behind.

It feels a little unseasonal drinking this one in summer, as this is a blend perfectly suited to blustery autumn afternoons. The only thing I would have liked to add is a touch of spice – perhaps a little cinnamon or ginger, or maybe some dried fruit flavouring. That would have made this a true baked apple tea! As it stands, toasted apple is a completely apt name. The beautiful baked apple notes are perfectly suited to a toasty genmaicha base, and the pairing seems to bring out the best in both flavours! A delicious sweet-savoury treat.

Taiwan DongDing (TungTing) Charcoal Baked Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

charcoalbakedDongDingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

The hand-plucked leaves of Dong Ding Oolong are grown in the Dong Ding region of Taiwan at the elevation of 740 meters. At this elevation, the leaves absorb moisture from the surrounding fog and clouds every morning and afternoon which is ideal for Oolong plants. Due to the unique geographic location and stringent selection of leaves, this is the finest Dong Ding Oolong from the Dong Ding estate. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Dong Ding from Fong Mong has been charcoal baked and you can really taste that element in this tea!  It’s a really nice complement to the natural nutty flavors of the Oolong tea.  This is really one of the tastiest Dong Ding Oolong teas I’ve tasted in a while and I think that the fact that it was charcoal baked makes all the difference.

My first cup was sweet and nutty with a distinct charcoal note.  I could taste the charred wood and a hint of smoke.  There was a creaminess to the cup, but it wasn’t like a heavy creamy note or a buttery note.  It was more like browned butter.  Smooth and silky; it didn’t feel heavy on the palate.

The sip starts out sweet with notes of honey.  I start picking up on the nutty flavors almost immediately.  By mid-sip, the sweetness is fully developed and I start to pick up on a hint of smoke which transcends into a charcoal note.  The aforementioned browned butter notes weave their way in and out of the sip.  The finish is almost “fruit-like,” tasting a bit like a roasted, caramelized peach.

The second cup seemed a little more unified.  The flavors were seamless.  It was a very smooth transition from notes of honey to toasted nutty flavors and hints of smoke.  The smoke was a little more subtle this time, and the notes of charcoal were stronger, even though they seemed “fused” with the other flavors.  Still sweet, still a fruit-like finish.  Delicious.

The third cup was very much like the second.  The browned butter notes have diminished by this point but they seem to have made way for more definition of the peach-like flavor.  I experience a slightly dry sensation toward the finish, almost mineral-y.  Still a sweet, lovely Oolong.

I brewed this Dong Ding the way I’d brew most Oolong teas, using my gaiwan and following a 15 second rinse, I started the infusion time at 45 seconds and added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  I combine 2 infusions for each cup, so my first cup was made up of infusions 1 and 2, and the second cup was infusions 3 and 4 … you get it, right?

Fong Mong offers quite a few amazing Taiwan Oolong teas that are well worth checking into!  I highly recommend them!

Strawberry Cupcake from Simpson and Vail

Strawberry Cupcake from Simpson and Vail
Strawberry Cupcake from Simpson and Vail

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Simpson & Vail

Tea Description:

When you sip this delectable brew the strawberry taste first hits your tastebuds followed by the rich, creamy, chocolate “cake” taste. Some of our staff like this blend with agave or sugar, but I find it’s delicious (and less caloric) as is! The aroma is as enticing as the taste – sweet, baked strawberry cupcakes. Yum! The cup leaves a lingering creamy taste of fresh fruit that makes it hard to resist another and another and another sip!

Ingredients: Indian black tea, strawberry pieces, strawberry leaf and strawberry cupcake flavoring.

Brew tea at 212ºF – steep for 3 minutes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Strawberry Cupcake from Simpson and Vail is one of the freshest tasting strawberry teas I have ever sampled. As a dessert tea however I do wish it were a little fuller in the mouthfeel. That is not to say it is thin or watery but I do think that somehow the ripe fresh juiciness almost hurts the thickness in the mouthfeel. I know that does not sound like too bad of a thing now does it? Because it does taste so amazingly fresh almost as if biting into an actual strawberry! I guess I was just anticipating by the decedent aroma and darker colored cup that it would be richer.

Seriously though, I can’t even get past how bursting with juiciness this tea is to focus on the chocolate flavor, or the cakey bakey goodness in the cup.

The after taste of this tea is almost like a fruit flavored beer. There is this flavor of very light delicate hops and a slight wheat essence in the background and it lingers on the palate.

I really rather like this since a lot of teas have a wine like flavor, or even mixed drink type flavor, this is one of the few that have this beer type flavor!

The chocolate in this tea is good, perhaps not outstanding, as I have had better chocolate flavors in tea, but on the other hand it does not turn me off, and a lot of teas with chocolate flavoring do. I would give this chocolate flavor an 8 out of 10 which by my standards is really excellent.

I have been surprised by this tea and am thankful to my Steepster friend who shared it with me. Yup this goes on the wish list and I will order it sometime in the future.

Strawberry and Vanilla from Lupicia

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green with Matcha

Where to Buy: Lupicia 

Tea Description:

Green tea with matcha is flavored with sweet fragrance of strawberry and vanilla.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When you open the bag the aroma that will strike you first is strawberry cupcakes! So amazingly yummy of an aroma to be greeted with! It makes me feel joyful and child like!

I was almost giddy the first time I sipped this tea and months later I still get that same feeling when I treat myself to this Lupicia offering!

I have several teas from Lupicia but to me they are like the champagne of teas and I only tend to bring them out when I have enough time to truly savor the cup! Then I am faced with the dilemma of which Lupicia tea to enjoy! I have yet to be let down by any flavor I have chosen when ordering from them!

Now granted I have not loved every sampler I have received in their tea magazine that comes with any order over 30.00. You will get the magazine for a year. More information on that here.

However, when I have selected my own teas based on my flavor choices I have absolutely never been let down! But I digress, back to this selection.

Strawberry and Vanilla from Lupicia is a delight! If you love strawberry tea I can not stress enough how well Lupicia has captured this flavor in all its natural glory in this and every strawberry tea they create! Add to that a lovely vanilla backdrop and the beautiful presence of roses, a perfect green tea with matcha base, and you have magic in a cup! It takes well to sweeteners although I find them unnecessary. The rose lays perfectly in a gentle unassuming manner gently scenting and flavoring the cup yet would not offend those who are not partial to floral teas. The matcha lends a gentle grassy flavor that is not overwhelming and does not come across as too vegetal. The soft buttery note of the green tea lends toward the bakery sensation this cup provides.

At Lupicia you can opt to get this tea in 50g or 100g in a tin or bagged. Prices vary depending on your choices.

The end result is – I love it – there is no other way to say it other than gentle sweet bliss. Try some. It is light, delightful, and refreshing! Also wonderful chilled!

Carmelized Pear from The Art of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos & Honeybush

Where to Buy:  The Art of Tea

Tea Description:

One of Art of Tea’s most popular offerings, this delectable dessert infusion is sweet and flavorful with notes of honey, caramel, and fresh baked pear.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the teas that was included with the Steepster Select box for August … which also happens to be the last box in this Steepster Select Program.  I’m a little sad about this program coming to an end … it seems like two of my favorite subscriptions – Foodzie and Steepster Select – are ending at just about the same time.

For the final box, Steepster decided to go with the theme “Founder Favorites” and feature three teas/tisanes that the men who brought us Steepster consider favorites.  The theme card says

Steepster is filled with amazing opinions from thousands of avid tea drinkers, but wanted to share a few of our own.  This month we bring you three favorites of the guys behind Steepster.  Teas that inspired us, evolved our tastes, and made us fall in love with tea all over again. 

These past 12 boxes have been a great ride for us.  Thanks for all our support and see you soon.  – Jason, Jack, Mike and Ricky

I’ve tried two out of the three teas/tisanes featured in this month’s box, including this one.  But, I don’t mind, because these teas are such excellent selections that I don’t mind having them in my stash once again!

As I said, I’ve tried and reviewed this tisane previously, and to be honest, my opinion of it has not changed.  It still tastes just like pear … I would swear that I can even feel the texture of the pear in every sip.  It is so true to the fruit.  And I love that it tastes like baked pear.  So YUM!

Even if you don’t really care for rooibos, this is a blend that I’d recommend trying.  It has such a sweet, delicious taste, that you will forget that you’re drinking rooibos (you don’t really taste much of the rooibos anyway!)   A stunning dessert tea – you’d swear it was loaded with calories!  But it’s not!  Yummy!