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Crimson

“Planet Jingmai” Ancient Tree Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea

Planet-JingmaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Crimson Lotus Tea

Tea Description:

“A world of flavor in the palm of your hand!”

Don’t let their small size fool you. These tiny spheres of puerh are made from 300yo Gushu/Ancient Tree material from Jingmai. They were picked and processed in Spring of 2014. They have been aged loose as maocha in Jingmai until now. They are fantastic. The aroma is thick with honey. The flavor is smooth and floral with just enough bitterness and astringency to keep your palate interested. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  OK, so I say that a lot when it comes to tea.  But I don’t often say it when it comes to Pu-erh!  At least, not so you – our readers – can “hear” it.  But this “Planet Jingmai” Ancient Tree Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea has earned the “mmm!”

This tastes more like honey than Pu-erh.  (When reading the word ‘honey’ in the previous sentence, you should hear it the way that Mr. Wonderful aka Kevin O’Leary says “money.”)  It is sweet and delicious and so honey-like, you’ll wonder why you’re not all sticky after drinking it.

Planet-Jingmai-PlateMy second cup is even more honey-esque.  I’m still searching for something that reminds me of a pu-erh.  It doesn’t taste earthy, it doesn’t have a mushroom-y taste.  Just beautifully sweet.  Perhaps a hint of vegetation and a light touch of floral notes.  But mostly, honey is what I taste this time too.

And this pearl of tea takes quite a while to unfurl too!  It wasn’t until after my third infusion that the orb looked more like a tea and not a ball of yarn.  After my fourth infusion, I noticed that the leaves were beginning to settle in a heap rather than staying wound in the ball.

The flavor of the honey notes begins to wane by the fourth infusion.  It was with this infusion that I started to pick up on more floral notes with hints of earthy vegetation than a strong honey-like flavor.  I’m still tasting honey notes even in my fifth infusion, but, they continue to soften with each new infusion.

By the end of the sixth infusion, the leaves had fallen away from the ball shape and had become a pile of wet leaves.  There is still plenty of flavor to them though, and I kept on going until I finished my ninth infusion.  I probably could have gotten even more from this tea!

This tea is a PLANET of flavor!  I highly recommend the journey.

2005 Changtai Yun Pu Zhi Dian “Top of the Clouds” Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea

2005-Changtai-Yun-Pu-Zhi-DianTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Crimson Lotus Tea

Tea Description:

This is a very special puerh prepared by the Yunnan Changtai Tea Industry Group. The blenders who work for Changtai are true masters of their craft. The leaves in this puerh are a blend of 15 mountains, Spring picked in 2005. The name for this cake “Yun Pu Zhi Dian” means “Top of the Clouds”. Since Yunnan means “Southern Clouds” this name has a double meaning. It refers to the heavenly experience and also that this puerh contains the best from Yunnan.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve often thought of pu-erh as a cooler weather type of tea because it’s a tea that I prefer to be served hot.  As the tea cools, I find that the flavors begin to mute and become lost.

And yes, I do drink hot tea even in the summer months, in fact, I drink more hot tea than I do iced tea in the summer months, but, I don’t drink as much hot tea in the summer as I do in the cooler months.

2005-Changtai-Yun-Pu-Zhi-Dian2So when I drink a pu-erh, I’m often reminded of the cooler days of autumn and winter, but as I sip this 2005 Changtai Yun Pu Zhi Dian “Top of the Clouds” Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea, the tea seems to be evoking thoughts of late spring and early summer.

Perhaps it’s the lovely notes of fruit that develop throughout the infusions, starting off with a soft hint of apricot and in later infusions, I notice that the sweet apricot notes are accentuated with a contrasting sour note of tart apple.

Perhaps it’s the lovely background note of flower that seems to bring to mind thoughts of floral aromas filling the air in the spring.  Or maybe it’s the delicate woodsy notes and hints of vegetative earthy tones that remind me of the trees as signs of their springtime foliage begin to grow.

This tea is beautifully smooth and sweet with notes of fruit and honey.  In the earliest infusions, the fruit notes are strongest, but as I continue to steep, the honey develops and the fruit begins to wane somewhat.

Meanwhile, the woodsy notes are developing.  These aren’t musty wood notes, but clean, vibrant woodsy tones.   The tea has a sweetness to it that is balanced with the aforementioned notes of sour apple.

I’ve only just been introduced to this company – Crimson Lotus – but I am quite impressed with this tea.  They specialize in Pu-erh teas.  Those new to Pu-erh will find this a fantastic resource of teas that are good ‘starting out’ Pu-erh (and since they specialize in Pu-erh, they’ll be a great resource of knowledge for you too!)  And for those of you who are more experienced with Pu-erh, I think you’ll find that Crimson Lotus has an amazing selection of intriguing teas.

As for me, I highly recommend this Top of the Clouds Sheng!  It’s delightful!

Crimson Grove™ Black Tea from Mellow Monk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Mellow Monk

Tea Description:

Crimson Grove™ is a special presence in the world of tea — a black tea made with leaves from the same green-tea cultivars used to make traditional sencha. The flavor is brisk and clean, with a green-tea-like sweetness and a smoky, nutty taste, finishing with overtones of nutmeg. If you like, say, English breakfast tea, you will be positively enchanted by this tea. So order up some scones and brew up a pot of Crimson Grove™.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Really NICE!  Having tried less than a handful of Japanese black teas, I can tell you that this is a real treat for me to be able to enjoy this Crimson Grove™ from Mellow Monk.  All of the teas that I’ve tried from Mellow Monk have been very enjoyable and they are the purveyor of one of my all-time favorite green teas.  And this Crimson Grove™ is yet another memorable tea from them.

The flavor is sweet and warm.  As the description above suggests, it has the smoky notes and the notes of nutmeg.  Nutmeg is my favorite spice, so, I’m loving the nutmeg-like notes here.  It tastes a bit like someone grated some fresh nutmeg over my cup of black tea!

It’s a very flavorful cup.  It’s not an overly aggressive black tea, though, so I wouldn’t turn to this tea as my first cup of the day for that vigorous shake awake that I look for when I want that jump start at the beginning of the day.  This is smooth and sweet, with a lighter body.  This is something I’d want mid-day for that little pick-me-up to keep me going.

Another awesome offering from Mellow Monk.  If you’re looking for exceptional Japanese teas, this is the place to shop for them!

Crimson Rose Grey Black Tea from Tea For All Reasons

crimsonrosegreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea For All Reasons

Tea For All Reasons on Etsy

Tea Description:

This exciting, new blend is a unique match up that you won’t find anywhere else! The bold character, taste and fragrance of Hibiscus, as well as Rose Petals, combines to make this a heavenly blend that creates a beautiful crimson brew in the cup. Treat your guests to this sophisticated blend at your next afternoon tea. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Hibiscus in an Earl Grey?  That … just seems wrong to me.  I understand putting it in there to encourage a pinker hue in a teacup … but, with the black tea in there, I don’t notice a whole lot of “pinkish” color in my teacup.  I do see a slight … pink tone to the color of this Crimson Rose Grey Black Tea from Tea For All Reasons … but, it’s not really enough to justify hibiscus in the blend.

Then again … I don’t really taste much hibiscus here anyway.  And that makes me very happy!  What I taste is black tea, bergamot and rose, and that’s just exactly what I want to be tasting here.  There may be the faintest hibiscus-y note to this … which seems to accentuate the tangy notes of the bergamot and the floral tones of the rose more than actually taste like hibiscus.  And as I said, that suits me just fine.  I don’t like hibiscus, but I do like Earl Grey (and rose!)

The black tea has a brisk taste to it – it is not an overly aggressive tasting tea base … it has enough flavor to it to taste like tea, but not so much that it interferes with the flavors of bergamot and rose.  The bergamot is a softer bergamot here, citrus-y and slightly tart.  The rose sweetens the cup a little bit, and adds a hint of floral sharpness.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable cup.  It tastes like something that I’d want to serve at a garden party, because it has a very “garden” like flavor to it … it is a very well-composed, refined taste, smooth and nicely round.  One guests would really appreciate and enjoy.

Crimson Nectar from Tea Forté

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Tea Forté

Company Description:

A vibrant, fruity, hibiscus-based herbal with a naturally sweet and surprisingly buttery finish. A limited edition holiday tea.

Taster’s Review:

Of the five teas that are included in the Winter Collection, this one is my least favorite.  It’s the hibiscus.  I just think that there is way too much of it in this blend, and I’m not particularly fond of hibiscus.

That being said, this tea isn’t that bad.  Or, at least, not as bad as I thought it would be.  The trick with this one is to not let it steep too long (because then the hibiscus becomes very thick and tart), serve it cold and to use an ample dollop of honey to sweeten it.  (Or perhaps you might use this tisane to make a holiday “punch” – just add some ginger ale!)

The honey serves two purposes, really.  It not only curbs some of the tartness of the hibiscus, but it also adds some definition to the overall cup.  With the honey in there, I can taste the lovely apple and citrus notes.

And then there is the buttery finish.  Yes, I get some tart that lingers on the tongue, but, there is also a sweet, creamy buttery taste in the finish … which nicely offsets the tartness.  It’s really quite pleasant, and perhaps the one thing that keeps me sipping this tisane.

As I said, this is not my favorite tisane and probably not one that I’d buy on its own, but it is certainly not so bad that I would choose not to buy a collection just because it happens to be part of that collection.  And I know that there are those people who have a greater appreciation for tart teas … this is the tea for you!