Southbrook Berry Blend Tisane from Pluck

Southbrook_Berry_BlendTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Pluck Tea

Tea Description:

A blend of dried grape skins from Niagara’s Organic and Biodynamic Southbrook Vinyards, layered with hibiscus and berries for a delicious fruit tea.  Enjoy hot or iced.  Caffeine – free

Learn more about August’s Postal Teas shipment here.

Learn more about subscribing to Postal Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

Of the three teas that I received in this month’s box from Postal Teas, this is the tea that I was putting off trying.  I was not looking forward to it.  I can see the hibiscus!  UGH!  And because it’s dried grape skins, berries and hibiscus (all dark red) … it just looks like pure hibiscus!

So, needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes for this blend.  To steep this, I got out my Kati tumbler and added 1 bamboo scoop of the dark, burgundy red leaves into the basket of the tumbler and poured water heated to 195°F into the tumbler and let it infuse for 4 1/2 minutes.  Normally, I’d steep a fruit/berry/herbal tisane like this for 5 – 6 minutes, but because this looked like pure hibiscus to me, I went with slightly less time.

The thing about hibiscus is that the longer you let it steep, the tarter the flavor.  Tarter?  Tartier?  More tart?  In addition to a more tartness, the hibiscus turns the liquid into a thick, almost viscous syrup that is quite tart and not very enjoyable to sip.  At least, not for me.  I guess there are some people that dig that sort of thing.

Anyway, this tastes much better than I anticipated it would.  Because of the short steep time, I don’t have a tisane with an unpleasantly thick texture.  And because of the short steep time, I’m not tasting an overwhelmingly tart, hibiscus-y drink.

I can taste the berries!  I can taste the grape!  In fact, the grape is what I taste most.  This tastes a whole lot like warm grape juice.  I suspect that this tisane would taste really good iced and would go over well with children, and it’s a caffeine free alternative to all those sugary sodas.

The “berries” in this blend, because they meld in such a seamless way with the grape and the hibiscus, it’s difficult to discern what type of berry I’m tasting.  It tastes like a berry/grape medley.  The hibiscus is still there, of course, but it melds with the flavors of grape and berry in such a way that it doesn’t taste “hibiscus-y”.  It tastes like a grape and berry juice that’s both sweet and tart.  I am not one who particularly enjoys tart flavors so I added about half a teaspoon of raw sugar to the cup and this toned down the tartness to a tolerable level for my palate.

This is alright.  It’s not my favorite tisane, but given how much I thought I’d dislike it, it turned out to be much better than I thought it would.

Overall, I enjoyed this month’s box from Postal Teas.  And after perusing Pluck’s selection of teas, I’m finding a whole lot more that I’d love to try.  Hey, Postal Teas, if you’re reading … you should feature Pluck again, soon!

Just Pure Green Tea from Just.Organic.Tea

PureGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Just.Organic.Tea

Tea Description:

A light and flavorful green tea, bio-dynamically produced in South India. Full of antioxidants. Plays well with honey. Tastes great hot or iced. Organic certified.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a mighty fine pure green tea.  Most of the green teas that I encounter are either Japanese or Chinese, so I’m really happy when I come across a green tea that’s grown in another country.  This Just Pure Green Tea from Just.Organic.Tea was produced – organically! – in South India.

And there is a notable difference in flavor.  It has that fresh and exhilarating “green” flavor, but it’s not quite as buttery.  Still sweet and vegetal, but this has more of an invigorating flavor.  The finish is clean and the aftertaste is more subdued.

The texture is broth-y, reminiscent of a light, nourishing soup.  The flavor is smooth and nicely round and as the sip nears the finish I start to pick up on lively citrus notes that perk up the palate.  It’s a very bright and refreshing taste and a nice way to end the sip!  There is a moderate astringency at the tail.

Another wonderful, organic cuppa from Just.Organic.Tea.  I’ve been pretty pleased with what I’ve tried from them thus far!

Organic Korakundah from Butiki Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

This green tea originates from the Korakundah Estate in Nilgiri, India and is grown at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Organic Korakundah is an FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe) grade. The Korakundah Estate is biodynamic, pesticide free, and socially responsible. This tea is very unique and almost difficult to describe. Notes of bitter greens and baby spinach are present with some smokiness. It is lightly astringent yet somewhat sweet.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve had this tea a couple of times now, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  It’s a refreshing change from the sweeter Chinese green teas that I’ve tasted.  This has a sweet flavor to it too, but, it’s quite different from the sweeter, creamier type green teas that I so often review.

This tea has a very interesting balance between bitter and sweet.  The flavor is quite vegetal, with notes of grass, smoked spinach and dandelion greens.  Yes, that’s right, I said “smoked” spinach, rather than steamed spinach.  It has that mild, sweet flavor that one would experience with steamed baby spinach, but there is a smoky tone to this too, so imagine if the baby spinach were smoked instead of steamed … what that might taste like.  That’s what I taste with this tea.

I love the complexity of the “green” flavor of this tea – it doesn’t just taste “fresh” or “vegetative” … it has a palate-pleasing sweetness that contrasts nicely with bitter tones, and a hint of smoky flavor that is also quite “green” tasting.  There is a smooth astringency at the tail that is quite different from the astringency in other teas too.  I often suggest an astringency is “dry” or “tangy” … but this is different.  It is smooth with a hint of sourness to it … almost tangy, but not quite. It leaves the palate feeling clean and very refreshed.

A lovely green tea – uniquely different from the Chinese and Japanese greens, but every bit as interesting.

Biodynamic Darjeeling from The Tea Merchant

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tea Merchant

Tea Description:

Our select high grown tea is hand picked, artisan processed, and brews a brisk, bright cup much lighter than other black teas. It is grown in high altitude steep slopes of up to 4000 ft. This tea is from the Makaibari estate in the Darjeeling hills at one of the last family-owned tea estates in Darjeeling, India. It is home to the finest high grown Darjeeling teas and the leader of biodynamic and organic permaculture.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea company recently introduced itself to the Steepster Community, and offered some of us samples!  I’m not one to turn down a tea sample, so I spoke up, and not long after did a box arrive with four delightful samples inside, including this Biodynamic Darjeeling.  I mention all of this only because I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the packaging!  The four samples were packaged in sturdy, resealable pouches that were then wrapped in tissue paper and then sealed with a wax seal.  I love little touches like this.  It may seem like one of those unnecessary, frivolous touches, but I happen to like it when a company takes the time to make the package special – it’s like getting a gift from a friend.

And what a gift!  This Biodynamic Darjeeling is really quite wonderful.

The aroma of the dry leaf is light and fruity, and the brewed tea maintains much of that fruity quality.  The fruit notes are evident in the taste as well.  Muscatel!  A sweet, wine-y grape flavor, as well as a hint of apple in the background.  I notice that the fruit notes seem to intensify as the tea cools, but don’t let it cool too much!  Sure, this would make a fine iced tea, but, to really discover all the nuances this tea has to offer, I recommend drinking it hot.

It has a deep, woodsy tone to it, but it still maintains that light, crisp taste that seems to be an inherent quality of a Darjeeling.  Sweet with hints of earthy spice – this is neither too earthy, nor too spicy, nor too sweet.  It has such a pleasant fullness to it, while keeping it’s beautifully light character.

This is very enjoyable – this is the kind of tea that you’ll want to have on hand for those afternoons when you just want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea … and it would also be an excellent tea to serve to the guests.  (But be warned, if you serve this one to guests, they’re likely to be guests again!)

Organic Fairtrade Green Tea from Hampstead Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Hampstead Tea

Tea Description:

Delicate and fresh tasting, our biodynamic green tea is valued for its detoxifying and antioxidant properties. Its unfermented leaves are only lightly steamed before being dried.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I am drinking the bagged version of this tea (it is also available loose leaf), and I am pleasantly surprised by the delicious flavor of this bagged tea.  Generally, my automatic response to a tea bag is “ugh” as I would prefer loose tea to bagged tea 9.9 times out of ten.  (Note:  for that rare, .1 moment, I generally want a bagged tea because I’m in a bit of a rush and don’t have time to do all the fuss and mess of loose leaf, nor do I have a lot of time to really savor the flavor of a loose leaf, but I still NEED tea).

But, really, the “ugh” response to Hampstead Tea’s bagged teas is unwarranted, because I’ve really been very impressed with the bagged offerings that I’ve tried from them.  This tea is no exception.

It has a sweet, strongly vegetal flavor.  The vegetative flavor has a grassy undertone and an overtone that is a bit like mildly flavored, steamed vegetables with a touch of melted butter.  There is even a hint of kelp in there somewhere, complete with a savory salty tone in the distance.  Fortunately, the kelp tone is rather subtle and does not overpower the cup, as I am not a big fan of seaweed-y flavors.  With this tea, that kelp-ish note seems to work well, as I am finding this tea to be quite enjoyable.

A very pleasant green tea, and really, I expected nothing less from Hampstead Tea!