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black loose leaf tea

Original Earl Grey (TE10)/Upton Tea Imports -VariaTEA

Photo Credit: Upton Tea

I don’t really like strong bergamot flavor. Every now and then I’ll reach for an Earl Grey Cream or a flavored Earl Grey but a straight Earl Grey has never been my thing. However, a friend was kind enough to share a sample of Upton Tea Imports’ Original Earl Grey (TE10) and so I figured it was at least worth a try. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and make the best of it so I found a London Fog recipe online and got to prepping.

I steeped 3 perfect teaspoons in 8 ounces of boiling water for 4 minutes per the company’s steeping parameters. I used the 3/4 of cup of leftover coconut milk in my fridge, topped with some 1% milk to get to 1 cup. I frothed the milk with 2 teaspoons of honey and one removed from the heat I added 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract. This got poured over the steeped tea.

This is a super creamy latte with a whole lot of coconut and vanilla flavor. Coconut milk is always very rich but to me it is always a touch heavy and seems ever-so-slightly savory (for lack of a better word and maybe because I associate it with thai food more than anything else). I am glad I diluted it down with the 1% milk as well. The honey comes through as a nice balance to the coconut and vanilla, adding some sweetness but not as much as I expected, which is preferable for my tastes.

Of course, how could I talk about a London Fog without mentioning the earl grey itself. I actually am happily sipping away at this one because the bergamot is very nicely balanced. It adds a freshness and a nice citrus flavor but one that is more suited to the cool fall weather. Whereas lemon and lime are typically bright and zingy and make for a nice and refreshing tea in the spring and summer, London Fogs are more cozy. This definitely fits that description.

Unfortunately given all the other ingredients I can’t definitively say that this tea is good or bad but as a base for a London Fog, this tea is perfect. It’s got enough bergamot flavor to push through everything else in the mug without being too harsh or overbearing. Furthermore, from what I can taste, I would say this is good quality given the base is not bitter or astringent either. I still have a fair amount of leaf left in the sample but with this new recipe, courtesy of the Nourishing Gourmet .  I am sure I will make quick work of it.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Description

China Black tea base with bergamot flavor. Produced for the British market, this tea has less bergamot than some American counterparts.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Organic Gold Ceylon/Teakruthi -skysamurai

Photo Credit: Teakruthi

A bit underwhelmed by this one at first. My first go at it was in my favorite mug, water at 140, steeped for around 2 minutes. Definitely not enough time.

Then tried again at around 4 minutes. Still not quite what I was hoping for… Ah. But wait. As the taste of my cereal subsided the flavor of the tea truly came out.

It is a true Ceylon with its slight tannic after taste. Good woody and slightly earthy notes. Second round will be 150 F in a smaller glass cup.

Change in temp hasn’t affected it as much as I was hoping. A bit more tannic, which is to be expected in the second brew of a CTC tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy:  Teakruthi

Description

Savour the taste of a deliciously strong flavoured tea with this Organic Broken Orange Pekoe Special (BOPSP). This single estate tea high grown in the Dimbulla region which has been producing premium quality teas since the 19th century. The certified organic tea is grown using traditional organic-only fertilisers and labour-intensive yet traditional methods of harvesting where the growers’ hand pluck only the bud and top two tender leaves, giving you the finest quality of tea grown here. The tea is processed to give you a strong flavoured brew that has a deep amber brownish-gold colour and woody, slightly burnt after notes.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

52Teas Sipdown -cuppageek

PhotoCredit: 52Teas

As some of you may know, I’ve taken a step back from my tea shop to get myself back on track health wise.  What some of you might not know- I literally stopped drinking tea all together.  I think between being such a huge tea fan and blending my own blends- my taste buds just weren’t feeling tea anymore.  So I sadly packed up what tea I had (which was a lot), knowing that one day I would be back at it. . . and I’m happy to say after taking a couple months off- my taste buds are back where they should be.

I wanted to greet my tastebuds with something amazing right from the start and knowing that I had a lot of 52Teas in my stash, I  knew Anne’s blends would be exactly where I needed to start my journey back into tea with.

If you aren’t familiar with Anne/52Teas, I implore to check her site out.  She literally makes some of the most amazing blends that I’ve ever had and beyond that, she is just an amazing person.  I’m quite honored to call her a personal friend as well, tho I never let that cloud my reviews of her blends and she knows that as well :).

Anyway, back to the tea goodness. . .

So over the last few days, I have enjoyed a TON of 52 Teas blends and was able to sipdown a few. Below are my thoughts on these blends that are sipdowns. . .

Blood Orange Butterscotch Black Tea– A blend with Black Tea, Blood Oranges, Calendula Petals & Natural Flavors- This blend, I have to say, was amazing however, I didn’t really pick up on the blood orange or the butterscotch.  What I loved was the black tea that Anne used in this blend. The flavor was rich and smooth and even tho I didn’t really pick up any of the flavors, the black tea notes were more than enough for me to call this blend a winner.

Boy! Oh! Boy! Black Tea– A blend with Black Teas, Watermelon and Natural Flavors- To me, watermelon is a flavor best enjoyed cold so I cold brewed this one.  That may have been a mistake. I didn’t love the blend and now I’m wondering if I would have enjoyed this one hot- would some of the flavors popped a bit more. . All I really could pick up was watermelon and being not one of my favorite flavors. . this one wasn’t my favorite. Still good.

Michola Chai Black Tea w/Honeybush– I would list the ingredients for this one but there is a laundry list of delights used to make this blend so I will some this one up with saying the normal chai ingredients with marshmallow root, vanilla bean, and honeybush.  Let’s just start this note by saying sorry, not sorry.  I literally gobbled up all the remaining inventory for this blend earlier this week (I believe and if there is more- I call dibs).  This blend is one if not the BEST chai blend I have ever had, and I am not a fan of chais.  Brewed up with hot- this blend had notes of chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg. . but want I literally searched for in each and every sip was the awesome ginger notes that stole the show.  Not being a huge ginger fan- the amount of love I have for this blend is really interesting. So many flavors that normally I am not all about.   I greedily drank/gulped this tea down in no time flat and have to say it is simply amazing.  All the ingredients mingle so well.  If you have this one in your stash, check it out.  You won’t be sorry.

Gooey Butter Cake Black Tea– Black teas, lemon myrtle, calendula petals & natural flavors- Brewed up hot, this tea is literally like sipping on a cake.  The cake notes are perfect in the spotlight with the tail end of the sip reminding you this is a black tea.  Really delightful and one that I was happy to enjoy.  Where I went wrong with this blend was brewing this one cold.  Sadly the lemon myrtle took over and I didn’t enjoy the cold brew as much as the hot.  Was still good, just not as good as the hot brew.

Walking on Sunshine White Tea– White Tea, lemons, marshmallow root & natural flavor- This white tea blend calls my name over and over.  Marshmallow Root, white tea, and lemon are one of my favorite combinations and this tea was no exception.  I truly enjoyed this blend hot as well as cold.  This blend is currently available on the site and if I was enjoying white teas more, I would have gobbled up all of this blend too.

Ginger Lime Butterfly Tea– Butterfly Pea Flower, Lemongrass, ginger root, limes & natural flavors- Oh this blend.  I truly truly love this blend.  This blend has been my companion for a while since I cold brewed this delight and just keep adding water.  The blend reminds me of a slightly floral, slightly spiced, limeade with chunks of lemon.  I don’t really know how else to describe this one.  I still have to hot brew the remaining bit I have left over, but cold brewed, this one is a winner.

Grapefruit Creme Brulee Green Tea– Green tea grapefruit, calendula petals, vanilla bean & natural flavors- This one is another sorry not sorry.  I also nabbed the remaining inventory of this blend earlier this week because this is the blend that truly sang my name and prompted me to even buy a new tea kettle.  This blend has it all- the lovely sweet notes of the vanilla bean, the semi tartness of the grapefruit with the vegetal background of the green tea.  I can’t express how much I love this one and I have a feeling this one might be one I beg Anne to reblend for me as a custom order.  It truly is that good.

Sipdowns are amazing but can also be sad.  It is always nice to make room for new blends but sometimes it is sad to say goodbye. . .especially to blends from 52Teas because once some of these teas are gone. . .they are gone for good. Lucky for me, I have myself a pretty good sized 52Teas order on its way to me.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Herbal/Chai/Black/Green

Where to Buy: 52Teas

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mokalbari Golden Assam/Harney and Sons -ashmanra

Photo Credit: Harney and Sons

When I drink black tea, it is almost exclusively Chinese black tea. I drank more Indian black tea back in the days when I added milk and sugar, but since cutting out additions, I found that many teas from outside of China gave me a stomach ache or heartburn if I hadn’t smoothed it with milk, neutralizing some of the components that were cramping my style…and my tummy.

Golden Tip tea and finer Assams are another matter, and when I saw the photo of these leaves and read the description, my mouth started watering. It was an expensive tea, but I had been building up my Loyalty Points for just such an occasion.

The lid and inside edges at the very top of the tin are coated with a fine golden powder. This is the lovely dusting of the golden hairs from these leaf tips. And the tea is indeed comprised of almost exclusively leaf tips, tan and gold and pale brown in the tin.

The leaves are so light and fluffy. As soft and light as they are, I added a little extra to my initial teaspoon to try to hit the 2.25 gram mark for my six ounce serving.

I steeped for four minutes since it is a golden tip tea. A full leaf or broken Assam would have only stayed in for three minutes for me maximum. I am surprised at the rich color from what I thought might still be too little leaf.

Moment of truth – is this tea worth the plump price tag?

If you love high quality Assams, I would say it is.

The Harney website estimates the price per cup at $1.33. That’s right – PER CUP. That is more than most tea lovers pay for a daily drinker, but competition oolong teas and fine aged puerh tea can run much higher. I did my own figuring on my two ounce tin and came up with a price of $1.10 per cup….if I don’t resteep the leaves! Fact is, I have just made three very good steeps with around 2 grams of tea.

The aroma, first of all, was just as mouthwatering as I had hoped it would be. The dry leaf smells like candy. No kidding, I lifted the tin and was very surprised at how sweet it smells.

Once steeped, it is lightly malty with some of the same dark honey scent I find in Golden Monkey teas. Though the description didn’t mention it at all, I detected walnut. In fact, I found it to be in the forefront for the first steep. After drinking it for a bit, I notice my tongue is feeling dry. Harney puts this at a two on the briskness scale, but I would possibly give it a little more.

It has medium body for mouthfeel, but the aroma is thick and lush, giving a sense of it being a creamy tea, fooling you into thinking the body is even heavier. For you milk-in-tea folks, I would think this bodes well. It does not coat the mouth like a creamy tea, however, due to the briskness.

I tried it with a bit of food next, as I find that briskness can almost disappear with a meal. And so it does, becoming far less noticeable. So this would be hreat for pairing with breakfast or afternoon cookies! After eating, I keep drinking this tea and there it is again – drying!

The third steep is lighter with a lovely golden-orange clarity. Still brisk but less so, still sweet. Enough flavor that I don’t consider it a washout and would definitely want to go three steeps each time I make it, but I think no further than three.

If I use Harney’s estimate per cup but allow for three steeps per teaspoon, I am now paying only 44 cents a cup for a fine tea. I can live with that.

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:    Harney and Sons

Description

A rare treat from Assam, comprised of nearly 100% golden tips. The Jalan family are the producers of this Mokalbari East, and they made the best Assams in 2021.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Litchi Chinesis Black Tea (featuring an Umi Tea Set teapot)

Photo Credit: Umi Tea Sets

The wonderful people at Umi Tea Sets reached out to us on Instagram and were kind enough to send us a beautiful teapot and a bag of this tea, Litchi Chinesis Black Tea.

I steeped 1 perfect teaspoon of the tea (approximately 1.5 teaspoons) in the teapot, which holds about 7 ounces of water. I steeped the tea for approximately 2 minutes in 200F water.

The teapot, which is currently sold out, is dainty in looks but sturdy in make. It has lovely detailing on it and a unique shape that really adds a touch of beauty and intrigue to each steeping session. On the practical side, I really like the built-in filter on the inside of the spout, the large handle that makes pouring so easy, and the beautiful string used to keep the lid attached to the pot. While I might wish that the filter was a touch finer to filter more leaves, or that the pot itself didn’t get quite so hot when steeping (easy fix…just grab the handle), I really do love this teapot and am glad to have it as part of my collection.

As for the tea, it is so smooth. I was actually shocked when I took my first sip. Litchi teas can often have a touch of bitterness to it or an overwhelming floral note. This is floral and sweet but with a solid smooth black base. It’s the slightest bit malty and overall just a really easy drinking tea that is true to the fruit! My only cause for pause is the price of this tea. While I can tell it is excellent quality and it comes with a gift caddy package, it is almost $30 for 100 grams. If litchi black tea is your thing though, this is a great option!

Thank you Umi Tea Sets for your generosity! I would definitely recommend both the teapot and tea! Make sure to check out the Umi Tea Set website to explore all their other great options!

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Umi Tea Sets

Description

Lizhi Black tea is a black tea scented with the juices from litchis, one of Chinas most popular fruits, which give a sharp, almost citric, flavor: It may be enjoyed alone at any time of the day or evening. The Litchi Chinensis Black Tea, is from Guangodong Province in China, also know as Lychee Black Tea. It is treated with the juice from the lichee fruit, which yields a wonderful and sweet fragrance. Lichee black tea can also be enjoyed chilled.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!