Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co.

BROWN_SUGAR_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Leaf Co. 

Tea Description:

A wonderfully bold and smooth organic tea blend of dark oolong and maple, a perfect pairing. While the oolong is bold, full-bodied, and lightly smoked, the maple is light, aromatic, and sweet. The combination of the two flavors results in a well-balanced, featured favorite maple tea blend.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  This Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co. is the first from this new-to-me tea company that I’ve tried, and it’s a good one!

The maple flavor is strong but I like that it’s not overpowering the Oolong tea.  Tea Leaf Co. has managed to strike a really delightful balance between the sweetness and rich flavor of the maple and the Oolong tea with its fruit notes and hints of smoke.

The base tea possesses notes of stone fruit (peach) and I taste wisps of smoke.  I like this delicate smoky note and how it plays to the notes of the sweet maple.  Nutty flavors develop as I continue to sip and I like how these interact with the maple notes as well.  This is a full-flavored Oolong, it’s rugged and has notes of wood and earth.  It’s a strong flavor that doesn’t wimp out behind the sweetness of the maple.  The contrasts in flavor from the woodsy, earthy, nutty and smoky flavors help keep the maple in check and keep it from becoming too cloying a drink.

The maple notes are sweet and pleasant.  They don’t taste chemical or artificial.  It tastes like someone drizzled a drop or two of real maple syrup in my teacup!  Quite delectable!

A real treat – this “Brown Sugar.”

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 (Part 1)

yunomi2I received my Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club package the other day and I was excited to get started!  This month, the teas are focused on ’tisanes’ – herbal blends from various Japanese tea companies.

Since this is a tisanes package and not Camellia Sinensis, I won’t be featuring part two of this series tomorrow night.  This is because I don’t usually drink more than 1 tisane per day, so I need time to consume these teas and write about them!

This month’s package included Yomogi herbal tea which is a Japanese Mugwort tea, Longevity herbal blend which is a blend of 18 Japanese herbs, Mulberry leaf tea which has been prepared Sencha style, Organic hatomugicha which is also called “Job’s Tears” and finally, Organic mugicha which is a barley tea.  Of the five, the Mugicha is what I look forward to most, as I’m quite fond of barley tea.

Also in this month’s package was another cute origami Crane … I’m getting a little collection of these!  The usual booklet which offers some information about each of the teas was not included but we received an email from Yunomi explaining that the booklet would arrive separately a little later.

The first tea that I’m going to try is the Longevity Herbal Blend from Nakazen.  I was happy to see that this tea included Camellia Sinensis in the form of Oolong tea.  Here is a list of the ingredients:

Barley tea, job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, cat’s whiskers (herb), dokudami (herb), oolong tea, tumeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, mikan (Japanese mandarin) peels, brown rice, pine leaves, ohbako, benibana, persimmon leaves, amachazuru, sarunokoshikake (fungi), cinnamon

18 Herbs for Longevity from Nakazen

The aroma of the dry leaf is very herb-y.  It sort of reminds me of walking into one of those apothecary shops.  The brewed tea has more of a ‘medicinal’ type of fragrance, still smelling very apothecary-ish but the herbal notes are medicinal smelling.

The taste is actually quite enjoyable.  It has a roasted flavor to it.  It’s toasty and warm.  Very nice on a chilly night!

The roasted flavor I attribute to the barley in the tea.  I also taste the brown rice, it lends a warm and nutty flavor to the cup.  I taste the resinous notes of pine leaves and I taste the warm spiced notes of cinnamon.  I taste hints of tumeric and I don’t know if I actually taste the Oolong, but I can feel it’s contribution – the texture of the tea has that wonderful, thick Oolong-ish mouthfeel.

The other herbs of this tea, I’m not sure what flavor profile to fit with which herb because they are herbs that I am – for the most part – quite unfamiliar with.  I would like to say, though, that even though the aroma strongly suggests an herbaceous, medicinal flavor, I smell more of that herb-y medicine-y flavor than I taste.  For the most part, what I taste is the barley’s contribution to this tea – I taste that warm, roasty-toasty flavor and that’s quite fine with me – I’m really enjoying this!

SONY DSCThe second tisane that I’ll be sampling – and the last for this, part 1 of the Yunomi Discoveries Club, Volume 17 review – is the Japanese Mugwort Tea from Yomogi-Cha.  The word “Mugwort” makes me think of Harry Potter and Nightmare before Christmas.  It sounds like something that Professor Snape would put in a potion or something that Sally would put in Doctor Finklestein’s soup.

This particular herbal doesn’t appear to be available on Yunomi’s site at the moment.

The dry leaf looks a lot like a dried salad.  The leaves are large and fluffy and there are some stems in there too.  The steeping parameters suggest using 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of water.  I brewed this in my Kati tumbler which holds 12 ounces (so 1 1/2 cups of water) so I figured, close enough.  Because these leaves are so fluffy and large, I eyeballed what looked like a tablespoon of leaf and put that in the basket of my tumbler and poured in 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F and let it steep for 4 minutes.  (The suggested parameters are 3 – 5 minutes.)

Having never tried Mugwort tea (at least, not to my recollection), I was not sure what to expect.  The aroma of the brewed tea is very grassy/leafy, evoking thoughts of what it might smell like if I were to steep some fresh lawn clippings.

The taste is very much like what the aroma suggests.  It’s an interesting combination of bitter and sweet.  It’s very herbaceous but not so much in an herbal sort of way, it’s more a grassy sort of herbaceous.  There is a light buttery note which is kind of nice.  There is some sweetness.  Overall, it’s not an unpleasant tasting drink, it’s just quite different from what I’m used to tasting and I’m not finding myself really enjoying it.

In other words, I don’t hate it but I don’t really like it either.

From what I understand, Japanese Mugwort tea is useful for detox and weight loss.  I don’t know if that’s true or not because I’m just drinking one cup of the stuff and that’s hardly enough to gauge whether or not it will work in this capacity.  I am noticing a warming sort of effect though.

Overall, it’s alright.  If I were going to drink this on a regular basis, I think I’d want to add something to it, perhaps a thin slice of lemon or some mint – something to perk up the flavor a little bit so that I’m tasting less of that strong grassy sort of flavor.  Not my favorite.

Banana Pudding Flavored Genmaicha from 52Teas

BananaPuddingGenmaichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

I know how much you loved our Banana Pudding black tea, so I decided maybe we should try it with a genmaicha, and let me tell you, the toasted rice element of the genmaicha combined with the sweet sencha green tea takes our banana pudding flavor recipe to a whole new level of yummmmmm.

Like with the black tea version of Banana Pudding, we’ve added freeze-dried bananas, coconut and organic flavors.  I think this one is going to be very popular.  Can’t wait to hear what you guys think of it.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I usually like to do my reviews of the 52Teas in order from when they were released, but I skipped over this one.  I’m not sure exactly why, except that I forgot that I had this tea in my stash.  Usually when I brew a 52Teas tea for a review, I go to the website and see which tea I should review next.  But I sort of skipped over this one because I thought, Banana Pudding?  Oh, I already reviewed it.  The tea I was thinking about was the Banana Pudding Black Tea.  I forgot that Frank (the chief Zoomdweebie from 52Teas) had more recently created a Banana Pudding Genmaicha!

Then I realized as I was going through my tea stash that I had this tea just waiting for me to review it!

And YUM!  This is good.

I think I might like this one even better than the black tea version, if for no other reason than the delicious, roasty-toasty flavor of the Genmaicha seems to add something nice to the banana flavor.  It’s sort of like a banana flavored rice pudding with delicious, toasty vanilla wafer cookies.  Mmm!

The sip starts out with a sweet banana-y flavor with a subtle grassy note from the green tea.  There is a light, buttery note that accentuates the “wafer cookie” like flavor.  Then I taste the toasty notes of the roasted brown rice, and this adds a sweet, nutty dimension to the cup that melds beautifully with the banana and the creamy vanilla notes.  As the sip nears the finish, I pick up on more of the sweet, “baked” notes of the wafer cookie.

It’s a really delightful combination of banana and vanilla custard-y flavors, nutty tones, buttery notes with just a hint of grassy/vegetal notes from the green tea.  The flavors all work together very well.  A really tasty flavored genmaicha!

Two thumbs up for this one!

Organic Genmaicha with Matcha Green Tea from Shi Zen

Organic_Genmaicha_with_MatchaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Shi Zen

Tea Description:

Genmaicha is one of the most popular teas in Japan. This Organic Genmaicha is coated with Matcha so when you infuse you will have a beautiful green color along with the pleasant nutty aroma. This tea is perfect to have with a meal or after meals.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Organic Genmaicha with Matcha from Shi Zen is so lovely!  I love the flavor contrast between fresh, “leafy” green-y taste of the Sencha and the roasty-toasty goodness of the roasted brown rice, while the Matcha adds a creaminess and a depth of flavor to the cup.  It’s a delightful cuppa!

The picture above accurately depicts what I found when I opened the pouch of this tea – deep, bright jade green Matcha dusted over the tiny spears of Japanese Sencha tea leaves and the pieces of crisped brown rice.  It smelled toasty and warm, but there was also a distinct “freshness” to the aroma as well.

The first flavor I notice as I sip is the sweetness of the roasted brown rice.  It’s sweet and there is an almost ‘caramel-y’ note to it.  Just beneath the top note of brown rice, I notice the slightly vegetal notes of the Sencha, and this offers a somewhat bittersweet flavor in a sweet-yet-savory way.  It’s a little grassy tasting, but this is not a prominent flavor.  I find that the flavors of the Sencha are softened somewhat by the presence of the Matcha, which lends a certain creaminess to the cup and a buttery undertone.  It’s a very smooth tasting drink.

There is very little astringency.  That is to say that I notice relatively no astringency to this at all.  The finish is soft and clean and the aftertaste is lightly sweet.

I love that this tea is organic (as are the other loose leaf offerings from Shi Zen!)  I don’t know if I can actually taste a difference, but I feel better drinking an organic tea, and I appreciate that Shi Zen makes this a priority!

Revenant Oolong Tea from Pelican Tea

revenantTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Pelican Tea

Tea Description:

An earthy but delicate habanero-infused Seschung Oolong tea with organic mint and pan-toasted brown rice. This is a favorite when I’m not in the mood for something sweet, but definitely in the mood for… something*.

*Something in this case may be anything.  Spooky.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Whoa!  This one has got some kick to it!  When I read the label and it said “Moderately Spicy,” I didn’t expect quite so much heat!  Not that I’m unhappy with it, I like the spice level.  But, for those of you who tend to be sensitive to spicy things, don’t be fooled by the word moderate.  This one is warm.

But after the first two or three sips of WARM … the heat becomes more subdued (or maybe it’s just that the taste buds have adapted to the heat) and now it’s more like a pleasant warmth at the back of the throat.  So, don’t let those first two or three sips scare you, once you get past that point, then you can sit back and really enjoy the complexity of this tea.

Because yes, it’s spicy, but, there’s so much more to this tea than just heat from the habanero pepper.

First, we have the roasted flavor of the Se Chung Oolong tea.  The delicious roasty-toasty flavor melds beautifully with the pan-toasted rice, and the delicate smoky notes of the Se Chung accentuate the spice of the habanero.  I love the way the roasty-toasty, the smoky and the spice taste together.  It’s a well-conceived flavor combination.

Then there is the mint.  Given how well the other three components – Oolong, rice and habanero – seem to work together, one might think that the mint is a bit out of place in this blend.  But, I like the touch of mint.  Mint can often become a bit too aggressive in a blend and wind up giving off a toothpaste-y sort of taste, but, that didn’t happen here.  The mint is strong enough to be tasted but not so strong that it overpowers the other flavors.  Instead, what it does here is come in to offer a cooling, crisp note to the warm, toasty and smokin’ flavors of the other ingredients.  It’s an interesting and creative contrast to the warm flavors.

Since this IS an Oolong, I decided to take it for another infusion.  The second infusion was – surprisingly – a little spicier than the first.  This surprised me; I expected the heat to wane a little with the second infusion.  The roasted and smoky notes of the Oolong as well as the toasty rice notes seemed to soften somewhat.  I think I preferred the balance of the toasty, smoky and spicy notes of the first cup over this, where it seems that the fiery notes of the habanero are stronger than the flavors of the Oolong and rice.  It’s still delicious, just different.

The mint is a little stronger in this second infusion too, so with this cup, there is more balance between the mint and habanero flavors rather than with the warmer notes.  It’s more like a balance between the crisp, refreshing notes of mint and the peppery heat.  Still a tasty cup of tea, and certainly worth the resteep!

This is a really fascinating blend from Pelican Tea!