Mintberry Pine Green Tea Blend from M & K’s Tea Company

MintBerryPineTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Sweet roasted sloe berries doused in honey and liquid hibiscus, tossed with fresh spearmint and 3-distinct green teas, paired with real pine needles. That’s Mintberry Pine. It’s our limited-edition green tea holiday blend that offers a more complex, subtle taste (as opposed to mint exploding in your mouth with the force of a white hot sun). If you’re a green tea lover, mint lover, berry lover, or all three, this tea is perfect for you. Get it while it’s here!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I saw that M&K’s Tea Company had some really intriguing holiday blends, I decided that I needed (yes, needed) to try them!  Fortunately, they understood this need and they offered a Wintertime Tea Sampler!  This sampler offers five different teas:  Moroccan Mint, Pine Needle Tea, Winterwolf Tea, White Vanilla Peppermint and this Mintberry Pine Green Tea.  These samples were all packed into a special sampler package that’s just the right size for stocking stuffers.  It’s a handsome package, something that Santa would be proud to give!

Before I received my package, I received a message from Marty (the “M” of M&K’s, I think!) explaining that the Mintberry Pine (and the Pine Needle Tea) are both very subtle teas.  He recommended steeping them a little longer than the package directs and to allow plenty of steep room for the leaves (let them steep loose in the teapot instead of using an infuser tool).

To steep, I grabbed my small teapot (4 cup size) and dusted it off – it’s been a while since I’ve used this!  I have gotten spoiled with my Breville!  I warmed the teapot and poured the contents of the sampler into the teapot and heated 16 ounces of water to 180°F.  Then I poured the water into the teapot and let it steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  The package suggests 2 – 4 1/2 minutes, but I couldn’t bear to let a green tea steep longer than 3 1/2  minutes.  I was willing to sacrifice a little of the mint, berry and pine flavors but I didn’t want a bitter green tea.

Yes, the flavors are a little subtle, but I like that I’m tasting all the elements of this tea and that the green tea doesn’t taste bitter.

I like the subtle flavor of the mint here.  I like that I have a crisp, cool minty taste without it tasting like I added a shot of mouthwash to my cup of green tea.

The berry notes add some sweetness and not a lot of tartness (which I was a little apprehensive about because I saw liquid hibiscus up there in the description).  There is a light, tingly tart tone that tickles the tongue (try saying that five times fast) in the aftertaste, but that’s to be expected with berry blends.  I’m also picking up a delightful honeyed note from the honey roasting process.  Nice touch.

The pine needles are the softest flavor component of the three elements in the name of this tea.  I do get a very slight, resinous pine note to this that hits the palate right at the start and then it quickly disappears and reappears just after mid-sip, just to remind me that it is there.  It’s very faint and it’s something that I think I’d have missed if I didn’t search for it.

However, as I continue to sip, I taste more and more of the pine, and by the time I’m halfway through my second cup of this tea, I’m getting a nice pine note.  It never becomes a strong presence, but it certainly is a noticeable presence at this point.

And let us not forget that we’re drinking tea here.  There’s a soft, buttery note of green tea.  It’s lightly grassy (and I think that the grassy tones accentuate both the pine and the mint notes in a positive way), and it has a nice mouthfeel.  It’s not bitter nor is it overly astringent, even though I steeped it longer than I typically would steep a green tea.  I think that this could have even gone another 30 seconds to 1 full minute longer without bitterness!

Overall, a very unique blend.  Certainly festive and definitely different from the other teas that everyone else is producing out there!  Bravo M&K!

No. 25 Morning Light from Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Description:

Awake to a festive gathering of highly sought-after teas, combining floral, nutty Darjeeling with bright, lively Nuwara Eliya, caramelized North Indian Assam and a pinch of fragrant Douglas Fir needles. Whoa, tannenbaum.

Learn more about this tea blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I debated with myself about when I should publish this review.  I thought originally that I should publish it on Christmas morning, since the number of the tea is 25 for the holiday, but then I thought – no, since this is a very limited tea, and I was told only one batch was made and once it’s gone, its gone! – I should publish this review early enough so that anyone who might be interested in the tea can have time to order it before it disappears.

And … you really SHOULD try this tea.  It’s amazing.  I should start with a disclaimer:  I love Steven Smith.  He is like a rock star, a god, an icon, even!  Of the tea world.  I love that he is located locally, and that it takes mere minutes for me to get to his tea shop (well, a few minutes drive, after how ever long it might take for me to coax my husband in to taking me to the shop), and I love how every tea that I’ve tried from Steven Smith Teamaker is delicious.

But this … this is really special, even in the array of amazing teas from Steven Smith.  It is a blend of three teas:  a Darjeeling which gives the blend a sweet, floral intonation, a woodsy note and a hint of lightness to the overall cup, Nuwara Eliya Ceylon which provides a pleasing, even and bright flavor, and an Assam that adds a sweet, caramel-y undertone and a touch of maltiness and richness to the cup.  These three teas, together, offer a very full and satisfying flavor without coming across as too heavy.  It’s a very palate pleasing combination.

But, Steven Smith didn’t stop there, because a blend of just these three teas might make a very enjoyable breakfast blend, but this was to be a holiday tea… and what would be a more perfect addition than a touch of pine?  Douglas Fir needles, to be precise.  The needles give the tea a fantastic flavor – a touch of crisp, mountain air – it tastes of pine, of course, with hints of refreshing, invigorating mint.

It’s really good!  It’s the kind of cuppa that puts a smile on my face and puts me into the holiday spirit!  Which I’ve needed … because I don’t even have the tree up yet!  Yikes!  I guess there’s no time like the present.  And now, thanks to Steven Smith, I’ve got the inspiration I needed to get busy with the task!