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Elderberry Chai from Elderberry Herb Farm

ElderberryChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type: Herbal Chai

Where to Buy:  Elderberry Herb Farm

Tea Description:

A delicious warming & fragrant blend of organically grown all-natural herbs & spices! Historically, elderberry & many of the ingredients were used to boost the immune system. Brew as herbal tea or Chai.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea is beautiful.   There are nice sized elderberries, chai ingredients, herbs and spices in this blend.  I’m pretty impressed with the quality of this blend.

Elderberry Herb Farm carries a few different herbal teas.  I’ve tried a couple and they are really good.  This one is good too, but I think it is my least favorite.

I am not a huge black licorice fan and this blend has a black licorice taste to it.  There is also a strong clove flavor running through each sip.  I could very easily drink this.  The tea is good.  This is just isn’t my favorite chai or would this be a tea I would reach for again.

On the other hand, one of my boyfriends’ twins tried this and adored it.  He asked me to make him another cup of it.  This kid loves chai, so the fact that he loves this tea is really no surprise.  He asked if I would keep some aside for him for tomorrow and later in the week when he and I have our “tea parties”.  It was really cute.

If you are a fan of black licorice, this blend is totally for you.  If not, I say give it a try anyway.  I am not a huge chai drinker and I could drink this if it was around.

With a touch of honey, sugar, and cream, I bet this tea would be fantastic!

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, February Review (Part 2)

yunomi2As I mentioned in yesterday’s article – I’m back with “Part 2” of the Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club review of February’s shipment!  Today’s article will highlight my experiences with two more Hojicha teas as well as another Japanese Oolong – I’m excited to get started, so let’s not dilly-dally!  Let’s jump right in!

autumnhojichaThe first tea that I’ll be discussing is Autumn Hojicha Roasted Green Tea from Takeo Tea Farm.  The first thing I noticed about this tea is that it starts out delicately.  My first few sips were very softly flavored.  I could taste light notes of sweet, toasty nut flavor, but they were quite subtle.  It wasn’t until the third or fourth sip that the flavors started to become more focused.  Now that I’m about halfway through the cup, the flavors are sweet, roasty-toasty, and nutty … and very well defined!

With those initial first couple of sips, I was starting to think that this tea was much more delicate than the Hojicha I had tasted for yesterday’s article, but now, I’m thinking twice about that.  These two Hojicha are very similar though, but I think that this one might taste a little more ‘roasted.’  Both are spectacular varieties of Hojicha, though, and I’d heartily recommend either, but this is the one I’d point you toward if you were looking for a stronger roasted flavor.

SONY DSCThe next tea that I’m tasting from Yunomi’s Tea Discoveries February package is #03 Black Oolong Tea from Kaneban Higuchi Tea Factory.  I found myself wondering as I brewed this tea in my gaiwan how much different it would be from last night’s experience with the Oolong tea from Takeo.

And there are some distinct differences in the two.  This has more of a sweet potato flavor to it!  I love that I’m tasting sweet potato!  There are hints of smoke to the flavor.  This reminds me more of a black tea than an Oolong.  It doesn’t have the same texture as I experienced with the Oolong from Takeo.

If I were to attempt to describe this tea in one sentence, it might go something like this:  this tea is what I’d imagine the love child of a Japanese black tea and Formosa Oolong tea would taste like.  I’m getting that rich flavor that I remember from the few Japanese black teas that I’ve tried, and I’m tasting notes of peach that I’d taste in a Formosa Oolong.  Along with the softest hint of smoke.

Quite lovely!

premium-houjicha1The final tea in this month’s Tea Discoveries package is Superior Hojicha Roasted Green Tea from NaturaliTea.  When I opened this pouch, the roasty-toasty aroma filled the air.  This tea seems to have more roasty-toasty-ness to it.

And that’s evident in the flavor too.  The flavor here is much stronger, right from the very first sip.  The roasted flavors are intense.  I can almost taste the charred wood notes of the wood that was used to roast this tea.   Most Hojicha – including the previous two teas that I tasted from this month’s Tea Discoveries Club – tend to have a delicate flavor.  This tea is more in your face.  Very roasty.  Very toasty!  Very nutty and sweet.  I’m getting mineral notes and a distinct charcoal-y flavor from it too.

And smoke!  I don’t usually taste smoke from a Hojicha.  I taste the roasty-toasty, nutty flavors, but the smoke?  No, not always.  I might have noticed smoke on an occasion or two, but here, the smoke is evident, particularly in the aftertaste.  Nice!

This is the tea for those who liked Hojicha but wanted a stronger flavor to it.  This tea delivers that!  It’s warm and cozy and comforting, but it’s also offers a bold flavor that is not common in your average Hojicha.

This month’s Tea Discoveries Club just reaffirms to me that YOU should be joining me on these discoveries!  The teas are remarkable and it’s really interesting for me to see how teas – like Hojicha – can differ from producer to producer.  You should never judge your like/dislike of a particular tea type based only on one sampling.  You should give yourself a chance to explore the teas – even those you may not have enjoyed from other tea companies – because you never know what you might be missing.

The Tea Discoveries Club gives you the unique opportunity to really explore Japanese Teas!

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, February Review (Part 1)

As with last month’s review of the Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club  (You can check out part 1 of that review here), I’ll be doing the review of this month’s package in two parts.  This first article will feature the review of two teas and the second article, published tomorrow at the same time, will feature three teas.  

yunomi2This month, we received five teas featuring Hojicha Roasted Green teas as well as Japanese-made Oolong teas.  Exciting!  I haven’t tried a lot of Japanese Oolong teas – most of my Oolong experiences have been with Taiwanese Oolongs and to a slightly lesser extent, Chinese Oolongs.  Japanese Oolong teas aren’t as common a tea to find – another reason that this Tea Discoveries Club from Yunomi is a GREAT deal!

The teas featured in this month’s package are:  three Hojicha teas (Hojicha Roasted Green Tea, Autumn Hojicha Roasted Green Tea and Superior Hojicha Roasted Green Tea) and two Japanese Oolong teas (Oolong Tea and Black Oolong Tea).  I’m so excited to try these!  I love Hojicha and I love Oolong and am especially excited to try something rare like Japanese Oolong!

Also included in this month’s package is a pamphlet that offers steeping and tasting notes as well as some other interesting information including tea-related Japanese phrases and terms and the cutest little origami Crane!

HojichaRoastedGreenSo let’s jump right in and get started with the Hojicha Roasted Green Tea from NaturaliTea.

This Hojicha delivers all the flavors that you’d expect from a Hojicha.  It’s got that wonderfully cozy, roasty-toasty flavor.  It’s lightly sweet and nutty.  It’s a very autumnal type of flavor – it evokes thoughts of autumn for me.  I think of the cooler weather, the crispness in the air and the smell of smoke from the neighborhood chimneys.  It’s the kind of flavor that you want to curl up to.

I like that this particular Hojicha is light.  It doesn’t have a heavy flavor to it.  It’s the kind of drink that you want after you’ve had a heavy meal.  It’s soothing and gentle.

SONY DSCThe second tea that I’ll be examining in this article is Organic Oolong Tea from Takeo Tea Farm.  This is a tea that I explored previously in another review (read that review here).

Dry, this tea looks a lot like a black tea.  It reminds me of a black tea with its dark, slender leaves.  If I were given the dry leaves ‘blindly’ (without knowing that it was an Oolong) I would not have guessed it was an Oolong by the appearance of the dry leaf.

The tea brews up dark too.  The only real “Oolong-like” indication I started to recognize is after the rinse and first infusion, I noticed how much the leaves had expanded and it was very “Oolong-esque.”  (Oolong teas tend to expand quite a bit during the brewing process!)

Now the flavor … this does taste like an Oolong.  It reminds me a lot of a darker Oolong, like perhaps a Formosa Oolong or a Oriental Beauty Oolong.  It has that deep, fruity flavor and the really lovely, full texture of an Oolong.  It’s sweet and really quite pleasant.

It has an almost ‘wine-like’ quality to it too, much more so than teas that I often call ‘wine-like.’  I can really taste a fermented grape flavor here.  The tea has a very rich, full and satisfying flavor.  This is truly a unique Oolong tea – one that should be experienced to be understood fully.  (In other words – try this tea as soon as you can!)

My first cup (infusions 1 and 2) was probably the most intensely flavored cup of the three that I enjoyed.  I found that with my second cup, the flavors were beginning to mellow slightly.  The tea was still very strongly flavored and I still got a very distinct fermented grape-like flavor to the cup.  But the flavors in the cups that would follow were a little less focused.  (Still quite enjoyable though – it’s well worth the effort to keep on steeping!)

With the third cup, I started to notice that the fruit notes were becoming sweeter.  It wasn’t as ‘fermented’ a taste as I noticed in the first two cups.  Floral notes began to emerge as did a sweet note that evoked thoughts of honey.  A really lovely cup!

I can’t wait to explore the other three teas!  Read about them in tomorrow’s article!

Burnside Extra Long Wirey Oolong from Red Leaf Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Red Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

In the Nilgiri District of Central India, the Blue Mountains are the home of the Burnside Estate Tea Farm. Every January, after the first frost of the year coats the young buds, this estate harvests the pekoe leaves and creates several varieties of tea from them, including this outstanding extra long wirey oolong. By combining mountain elevations, which encourages the trees to draw nutrients from the soil, an early harvest, which encourages lightness and clarity in the brew, and then by twisting the oolong tea leaves into stretched out “wires,” Burnside has created a loose leaf tea that can boast incredible body and intensity, while keeping astringency to a minimum. Sweeter than any other oolong, this Burnside Estate leaf will provide you with some of the strongest expressions of pure tea flavor that you will ever find!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been reviewing so many flavored Matcha from Red Leaf Tea in the last few months that you might have forgotten that they also sell tea other than Matcha, too!

This Oolong is different from other Oolong teas that I’ve tried.  The dry leaves are just as the name implies:  long and wiry.  They are dark in color, indicating to me that this is a darker Oolong, and generally with darker Oolong teas I tend to expect more of a fruitier taste than a flowery one, and that is true here.  This does have a fruity character, but, where it’s different is the way the fruit notes present themselves.

Ordinarily, when I say fruit, I refer to a sweet tasting flavor that tastes similar to some sort of fruit.  (I know, duh!  right?)  But, here, I taste sort of a sweet-and-sour taste that reminds me a bit of a slightly under-ripe plum, with hints of a peachy-apricot-y flavor in the background.  There is a vivid contrast between the sweet and sour.

I taste faint notes of floral tones to this as well, and while these floral notes seem to intensify as I continue to sip, they never seem to become a strong flavor of this tea.  There are woodsy notes to this as well as a faint earthiness.  These flavors also seem to come out a little more in subsequent infusions, but never really become a strong flavor of this tea.

I like the complexity of this.  In one sip, I’ll notice a hint of honey-like flavor, in the next, my palate seems to linger over the sour notes.  It’s really quite beautiful:  light, crisp and tasty!

ITFA Global Tea Tasters Club, August Shipment, Part 1: Organic Sencha Yabukita Midori

Hito to No, Shizen Wo Tsunagu Kai Farm in Japan

Leaf Type:  Green

Produced on the Hito to No, Shizen Wo Tsunagu Kai Farm in Japan

Farmer:  Toshiaki Kinesuka

For More Information, visit the Tea Farms webpage

About ITFA Global Tea Tasters Club:

By subscribing to the Global Tea Tasters Club, you will receive tea from ITFA tea farms 6 times per year. Each time, we will select a different region to feature and as we grow in tea farm members, so will your tea experience.

Your tea will also be accompanied by info about the tea and the tea farms themselves.

To know where your tea is coming from, who has grown and produced it, to taste the difference in teas from around the world…what could be better?

Taster’s Review:

I have tried this on two separate occasions before I sat down to write about it.  The first time I brewed it, I brewed it “light” – that is, I used a little less leaf than I normally would.  This is something I generally do with a Japanese Sencha, because the leaf cut is so fine that more tea ends up in a teaspoon than, say, with a Chinese Sencha, which tends to have larger leaves.  The second time I brewed it, I used more leaf.  And while I enjoyed it both times, I do think I prefer the lighter infusion.

The first infusion was very light and crisp and had very little astringency … much less than I expected after reading the description of this tea:

Yabukita Midori – Soil development of a tea field is a decade-long process and Kinezuka-san has had many years to perfect his cultivation methods. The result of that is the Yabukita Midori tea leaf, made from the Yabukita tea plant cultivar and harvested in the week of the 88th day. In Japanese tea culture, the 88th day after the start of spring in the old calendar is when the tea leaves are said to be at their best, and tea made from these leaves is said to grant you long life. The taste is a deep balance of sweetness and astringency.

It is because of so little astringency that I thought maybe I had misjudged the amount of tea that I should use, and I decided to try to brew it again on the following day … that time with a little more leaf.  With the second infusion, there is a bit more body to the cup, as well as more astringency.  The astringency is tangy, and it provides an interesting contrast to the sweetness of this tea.

I enjoyed both infusions; this is a wonderful Japanese Sencha.  However, I do think I preferred the lighter infusion.  It is so sweet and refreshing!   Such a crisp, pure taste.  It tastes fresh and grassy.  There is a fruit-like undertone which is more prominent in the stronger infusion.

This is a tea for those who truly love green tea.  Soothing, restorative and yet invigorating.  A perfect cup of green tea.