Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas. . . . .

I love spicy teas, so when I saw that 52Teas has a special spiced blend for the Chinese New year, I had to try it.  Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas is one of my favorite chai blends I’ve tried in a while. In the dry leaf, you can smell the Szechwan peppercorns, adding a little heat and a little tingly, earthy ground pepper scent.

The peppercorns are well-balanced with the sweeter spices like anise and ginger.  The orange peels are specifically mandarin oranges, and there’s something distinct in the citrus flavor that makes it feel different than the usual orange notes. Finally, there are also plenty of cloves that add their own sweet-spice, almost making the dry tea leaves have a fragrance like Dr. Pepper or Moxie soda.

Brewed, the black tea really shines and shows off its quality, tippy tea leaf origins.  Somehow both smooth and tart, it makes the pepper and orange pop on my tongue but without any spicy after-burn on my throat.  There is still a very full-flavored scent in my mug with cloves and ginger, but it’s not sweat-inducing spicy in taste, very drinkable.  No honey or milk needed (though you can always add them if you love it), the blend is well-balanced right out of the bag.

I ordered the sample size but I’ve already finished it, so I’ll have to put the full size bag in my shopping cart soon.  This is a tasty, unique chai for spicy tea lovers everywhere.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas

Since China is a very important part of what I do (since most of my tea comes from China!), I decided it was important to do something to celebrate the ringing in of the Chinese New Year this year (The Year of the Dog)! I started with two black Yunnan teas – a Yunnan Black Gold and a tippy Assamica grown in the Yunnan Province – and added dried mandarin wedges and the whole spices of a Chinese 5 Spice blend: Cinnamon, Cloves, Star Anise, Fennel and Szechwan peppercorns. Then I added just a wee bit of ginger to enhance the peppery notes just a little. The result is a cuppa that is a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and a little bit spicy! It’s a really nice, round flavor! The mandarin orange flavor is bright and adds a nice touch to the spices here. It’s kind of like an orange flavored chai – Chinese style! I’m really happy with how this one came out – the spices are strong enough to be inviting but don’t blow out the taste buds with the spice – and the mandarin is really lovely: sweet and juicy!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Golden Monkey from Tea N Joy. . ..

I’m not always the right tea taster for the special harvest, unflavored tea samples, as much as I wish I were overjoyed about a pu erh cake or a shade-grown green tea.  That said, I’ve definitely come to enjoy black teas with golden tips, so I was excited to brew up a cup of Golden Money from Tea N Joy.

It’s hard to resist an animal-inspired tea name.  I’ve tried oolongs called “Monkey-Picked” because of the treacherous areas where the trees grow. Golden Monkey sounds like a tea named for a beautiful blond-haired monkey.  This tea is actually named for the golden tips of the tea, and the fact that the leaves are sharply curved, like monkey claws.

Brewed, this tea is smooth and chocolatey, even after only a short brew.  The tea doesn’t taste exactly a chocolate bar, but there is a distinct sweet herbal flavor that brings to mind dark chocolate.  On my second steep, I gave the leaves a longer steep time, and even with the added brew time, the strength of the cacao notes don’t overpower the silky, mellow black tea base.  This tea is full and rich, very drinkable with lots of subtle sweet flavors that open up the more you drink.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a tea connoisseur, do yourself a favor and try a cup of Golden Monkey from Tea N Joy.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Tea N Joy
Description: Golden Monkey Tea is hand-processed each spring with a careful plucking of only one leaf and one bud. It is among the finest Chinese Black Teas available today. A rich, full-bodied Tea. The name comes from its unique appearance: the leaves resemble monkey claws. Sweet and very ‘nosy’ with the aromas of: savory roasted apples, cocoa and spice notes that linger as you sip. Rich, coating texture and very smooth, soft mouth-feel. Delicate, almost indistinguishable astringency.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Golden Tips Black Tea from Chai Safari. . . .

It’s almost midnight and I’m in the mood for tea! What to pick? What to pick? I want something delicious. I want a tea experience, not just any old cuppa.

Ah, this fits the bill.

Chai Safari has their tea grouped by mood on their website and I must say this one is spot on. This Golden Tips Black Tea is listed in the Fresh and Vibrant categories. An odd choice for late at night, but I am intrigued. Besides, I LOVE golden tip teas!

The medium length leaves are twisted and golden tan in color with some very light brown ones. Instructions call for less than boiling temperature water and a three minute steep. I would normally experiment and go with my standard black tea parameters, but I stuck with the company recommendation on this one and I am glad I did.

The tea has such beautiful clarity. And while it has light body, it nevertheless has a complex flavor, beginning with a golden raisin aroma that hits as the cup draws near to your lips, and on the sip develops into honey and malt and a wisp of rye bread. The tea is brisk and a little dry and the flavor lingers on for a long while. This gives it the vibrancy that earned its classification. Those golden tips are packed with sweetness.

We are re-steeping the leaves and the second steep is possibly more fragrant than the first. The third steep has almost as much color as the first two, but the dryness is a little abated and this is a “wetter” tasting cup. I find it slightly sweeter, as well.

This would be fabulous with a good cheddar. Next time. Next time…

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Chai Safari

A brief peak harvest between mid-May and early August yields this renowned black tea with golden tips that denotes buds.  Colorful golden tips mingle with full leaves to create rich flavors and aromas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

What’s in a name? Diksam TGFOP 1 2nd Flush 2013 Assam

Today I tried a tea from Lochan Tea Limited, Diksam TGFOP 1 2nd Flush 2013 Assam.  Let’s start with breaking down that name! “Diksam” is the estate where these leaves are grown, part of the “Assam” tea region in India.  “TGFOP 1” is the designation or grade of the tea, in this case it stands for: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe One.  “2nd Flush” indicates when this tea was collected.  In the case of Indian teas like this Assam, the 2nd harvest is more prized for its higher content of “golden tip” tea leaves.

This particular batch was harvested in 2013.  I’m a bit late to the party on this tea, since most leaves are at their best when fresh, but this brew still had some life in it.

Whew with all of that knowledge sinking in, let’s explore how this tea actually brewed up!  These leaves steeped into a rich, dark red tea smelling slightly sharp and bold right from the start.  When the tea was at its hottest, there was a scent of burnt caramel mixed in with the malty notes.  The taste of this tea echoed these scents while brewing, though there were new flavors as well, like a deep foliage note at the back of each sip.  This tea was definitely heavy and full-bodied, more earthy than astringent.  The tea was strong enough to hold up its boldness when mixed with milk.  The milk helped mellow out any bitterness and brought forward more of the barky, nutty tones.
While this particular batch isn’t available on Lochan Tea Limited at this time, they have a range of other premium black teas.  Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of the tea naming system, you’ll know more about what you’re ordering!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Lochan Tea Limited

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Golden TipsJungpana_Premium_Darjeeling_Black_Tea_Autumn_Flush_Organic_3_large

Tea Description:

A first-rate Autumnal from the paradisiacal tea plantations of Jungpana. Amber liquoring with a riveting aroma, this is sure to become your favorite morning cuppa. Fittingly robust and bodied, the tea brings in whiffs & undertones of muscatel complimented by distinctive maltiness unique to Darjeeling black teas through the pre-winter harvests. Taste buds capitulate to the bold slightly-earthy character of the tea as it flushes your mouth with its dominant character. A slight palatableness engulfs as you roll the liquor. Floral and dark chocolaty notes are sustained during the entire experience. An excellent tea and among our best-sellers every season.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Golden Tips has some of the most incredible natural tasting black teas I have ever experienced and this Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips is no exception.  Their black teas are so heavy on crisp flavor that THAT is what I always find the most memorable about the black teas I have had from Golden Tips.

Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips is a full-bodied Darjeeling black tea that is robust and multi-layered in flavored.  It’s exceptional on many levels.  It’s slightly Earthy but in a delightful way.  There are crusty textures ad dark chocolate hints that keep you wondering with each sip.  The end sip on to the after taste provide a non-bitter floral flavor that lingers nicely and makes you crave me.  I can totally see why this tea is among their best sellers each and every season.

It’s an easy decision to add Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips to my list of all time favorite black teas.  Yum!