An Announcement!

Hello Everyone!

TeaAs you are probably well-aware by now, I – LiberTEAS – am planning on acquiring 52Teas.  At the close of the Kickstarter campaign, I’ll be busily preparing to get things up and running.  On June 1st, I’ll be releasing my very first tea of the week!  (If you want to know what that flavor will be, check out this update.)

I’m really excited about this new development in my life, but with this new development comes the need for a change in the way things are run here on SororiTea Sisters.

When TeaEqualsBliss and I started this blog some five plus years ago, it was my goal to be able to write honest reviews.  The first tea blog that I wrote for had a ‘positive reviews only’ policy and at first, I supported this idea.  It was my thinking that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.

But being nice and being positive aren’t the same thing.  I realized that I could be nice without being positive.  So instead of being positive, I decided when we started this blog that I would be nice but also honest.  I would approach each product as honestly as I can, without being mean.  I don’t know that I did that with every single review in the thousands that I’ve written over the years but that’s been my goal.  What I can say is that with every single review in the thousands that I’ve written for this blog, each and every one has represented my honest feelings at the time I wrote the review.

And now that I’m about to embark upon a new venture where I’ll be crafting a new tea blend every week as the new Mad Tea Artist of 52Teas, I don’t think that I’ll be as objective as I need to be for the process of writing reviews once I start creating my own teas.  I can’t say that I’d be able to be as unbiased as I need to be when that time comes.

So, I’ve decided to hand off the writing reins to other people who can be as unbiased and honest with reviews so that SororiTea Sisters can continue.  Earlier today, our first review from one of the new SororiTea Sisters published, and I’m so proud and happy that our new SororiTea Sisters have begun writing!  In the weeks ahead, watch for a whole lot more activity on this blog as we now have eight new sisters.  I’ll be dropping off as the time approaches for me to end my time as a SororiTea Sister, but these new sisters are enthusiastic and ready to write!

Please take a minute to check out the Who Are The SororiTea Sisters page to familiarize yourself with the new sisters!

Thank YOU for reading with us – we’ve loved having you along for our tea journey!

2014 New Amerykah 2 Raw Pu-erh from White Two Tea

NewAmerykahTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:

An old arbor Menghai blend. Thick body, lingering kuwei [pleasant bitterness], and plenty of oomph. This tea is a continuation of last year’s New Amerykah. The blend is slightly different, focusing more on sweetness and body than on bitterness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was a little worried when I read the description to this 2014 New Amerykah 2 Raw Pu-erh from White Two Tea.  I’m not a big fan of bitterness – although sometimes I find a savory bitterness to be quite pleasant especially when it contrasts with a stronger sweetness in a tea, so I hoped that might be what I experienced with this tea.

My first infusion wasn’t as sweet as I secretly hoped for but there is a really nice balance between the savory bitter note and the sweetness.  It’s not what I’d describe as a sweet tea, this is definitely more a savory tasting tea.  But it’s pleasant and actually kind of a nice change up from some of the sweeter teas that I’ve had.

It’s very mellow and not at all earthy as I would generally expect from a pu-erh tea.  No briny taste, no fishy taste, not even a slight ‘mushroom-y’ taste.  It’s light and slightly herbaceous.  It’s a very mild taste, very pleasant to sip – so pleasant in fact, that the tea disappeared rapidly.

NewAmerykah2My second infusion has a much stronger flavor.  There is nothing mild about this cup!  But it still isn’t what I’d call earthy.  Herbaceous, yes.  There is a distinct bitter note, like a bitter grass flavor, or like what I might experience if I were to eat collard greens.

This cup is not nearly as balanced as the first cup was.  I almost feel like this could use a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar in it to help balance it out and offer some tangy notes as well as a hint of sweetness.  It tastes like it needs ‘salad dressing’, if that makes sense.  It’s not unpleasant though.  I notice that toward the end of the sip, I get some sweetness and almost like a hint of citrus in the finish and these flavors do help balance out the bitter notes.

Interestingly enough, I found that the third infusion was much more like the first than it was the second.  The flavors were stronger in the third cup than the first, but, I found that the strong bitterness had subsided somewhat and become a little smoother and balanced with the sweet notes.

It’s still primarily a savory tea (again, not a tea I’d call sweet) but there is more sweetness now to soften the savory bitter taste.  There is a dryness to this cup too, like a mineral-y dry note just after mid-sip that transcends into a slightly dry astringency.  I notice some grape-y notes here, reminding me just a little bit of a dry white wine.

Later infusions continued to become smoother and more balanced.  I think that my favorite was the fourth infusion, which seemed to me to be the perfect balance between savory and sweet without tasting ‘sweet.’  It was still a distinctly savory tea with its bitter characteristics but there was enough sweetness to soften the bitter bite and keep the taste balanced for the palate.

As I drank the sixth infusion, I felt the flavors were starting to wane somewhat so I decided to stop with this tea.  I suspect I could have still gotten at least two more (possibly more) flavorful infusions, but, I was ready to move on anyway.

What I like best about this particular pu-erh is the lack of earthiness.  No strong earthy notes in the aroma.  Not a strong earthy flavor.  I also like that with each new infusion, I discovered something new about this tea.  It captured my interest with its smooth, mellow character in the first infusion and it seemed to reinvent itself with each new infusion to keep hold of my interest.

A very different pu-erh – but different in a very good way!

New House Blend Black Tea from Bluebird Tea Co.

new_house_blendTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Perfect for those who like a stronger Earl Grey, our New House Blend is a full bodied blend of whole leaf Earl Grey and Assam. Enjoyed for years at founder, Mike’s, family home, The New House, where his family created this blend when he was just a boy!

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When I am given a new-to-me Earl Grey tea to try, I’m as excited as a kid in a candy store.  Earl Grey is my favorite “flavor” of tea – so long as it’s done right.  I have had several poor excuses for Earl Grey in the past.  Fortunately, today, I’m having a really awesome Earl Grey.

Because today, I’m drinking this New House Blend from Bluebird Tea Co.!

When I first opened the pouch, I had forgotten that this is actually an Earl Grey (it says “New House Blend” on the package, and I didn’t read the small print that says:

A stronger Earl Grey blend with whole leaf Assam

Nor did I read the ingredients that list:

Ceylon black tea, Assam black tea, Kenyan black tea, Bergamot flavour

I didn’t have my glasses on, so all that I could easily read was the “New House Blend” part and I knew that it was a black tea, and since I needed my caffeine fix (my first cup of the day!) I grabbed it and tore open the package.

Then I smelled it.  BERGAMOT!  Yes!  It’s Earl Grey!

And the bergamot here is strong and beautifully aromatic.  I think that my taste buds jumped up off my tongue and started doing the happy dance after I smelled the dry leaf.

So, I impatiently waited by the tea maker as this tea brewed like a love-sick heroine from a romance novel who was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her lover who has been away for far too long.  Yes, I admit it, I have been having an affair with Earl Grey.  My husband knows about it.  He doesn’t necessarily approve, but, since it’s a tea that I’m in love with, he accepts it.

Finally!  The tea maker beeped to let me know that the brewing cycle was complete.  I poured myself a cup and inhaled the fragrance deeply.  The bergamot has softened somewhat during the brewing process, now I also smell the richness of the black tea blend along with the lovely notes of the Italian citrus.

Oh!  This tastes SO GOOD.  This blend has been skillfully crafted.  As much as I love bergamot, the real star of this cup is the black tea base.  The combination of not just Ceylon and Assam but the Kenyan black tea as well has created a solid, well-rounded black tea flavor that is rich and smooth.  No bitterness and very, very little astringency.  It’s a good, robust black tea with some gusto to it – this would be a good first cuppa!  (Which it happens to be for me today.)  It will give you that nudge you need to start the day.

But, of course, no “Earl Grey” tea would be a proper Earl Grey without the bergamot.  The bergamot fruit here is done quite well.  It’s strong but not so strong that it ends up tasting like Uncle Albert’s after shave.  I like the strength of the bergamot, but I think it could be just a tad stronger without that after shave taste.  If I had to offer any complaint about this tea at all, that would be it – I’d like just a touch more bergamot.

But don’t take that criticism as me saying that I’m not happy with this cup because this tastes amazing!  The bergamot adds a tangy note with just enough sweetness, it’s bright and acidic, but not so acidic that I feel the insides of my cheeks puckering from it.   There are a few floral notes to the fruit, but this bergamot is more fruit than flower – which is the way it should be!

An excellent Earl Grey, and a tea that is definitely worthy of an esteemed title of “New House Blend.”  Well done, Bluebird Tea Co.!

New Vithanakande Black Tea from P.M.David Silva & Sons

new-vithanakandeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  PMD (P.M.David Silva & Sons)

Tea Description: 

Perched over a hill overlooking an untouched rain forest, New Vithanakande Estate produces the islands most cherished low grown tea. The Guild of Fine Food were adored the unique complexity of New Vithankande and awarded it a Gold Great Taste Award in 2012. Nature heavily influences the tea produced at New Vithankande. Parochial winds sweep through the rainforest adjacent to the estate and when they arrive, they infuse the tea with forest fruit flavours.

The tea is leafy and has a glorious black sheen since the soil is abnormally high in nutrients. When infused, New Vithanakande has a complex caramel flavour and has hints of forest fruits; a tea truly blessed by nature.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm … yummy!  This tea is delicious.  Just as the description above suggests, this tea has a complex caramel flavor and hints of fruit.  It’s strange that no matter how many different teas I try with similar characteristics (like caramel notes, for example), that even though I’ve tried so many teas with notes like this … I’m still blown away by just deliciously caramel-y a tea can be without any flavoring other than what nature and it’s oxidation process has instilled into the leaf.

And this has a really rich caramel note to it:  almost creamy!  There are notes of malt to this as well as a pleasant fruity note that is reminiscent of sweet berries without the tartness that accompanies the berry.  This tea is all about the sweet!  I’m also picking up on some notes of raw cacao and a hint of earthiness.

It has a robust quality to it:  it is rich and full-bodied, with a bold character.  It’s one of those teas that would be hefty enough to serve for a breakfast tea (and would probably take the addition of milk and honey well, although I didn’t try it like that, I found it to be amazing served straight up.)  But it has a really luscious flavor to it that it would also make a great tea to serve with dessert!

I have been very impressed with the teas that I’ve tried from PMDavid Silva & Sons – this is a company that I feel very comfortable recommending highly to all my readers!

New Vithanakanda Ceylon SFTGFOP-1 Black Tea from Kally Tea

New Vithanakanda

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Kally Tea

Tea Description:

With this orange pekoe offering from Sri Lanka, Kally Tea again offers what we feel is the best of the best. This is graded as SFTGFOP-1. This translates to “Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe-1. This tea is wirey with extra-long leaves and nice faint golden tipped leaves. A refined and respectable tea from one of the most honored estates.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m not always particularly excited to try a pure Ceylon tea, mostly because, Ceylon is generally the tea that is used when creating a flavored black tea because Ceylon tends to be a rather even-tempered, moderate, mild-tasting tea.  Brisk, but not bold … just kind of … there.  You know what I’m saying?

However, this New Vithanakanda Ceylon SFTGFOP-1 Black Tea from Kally Tea is an exception to that … this Ceylon has some real GUSTO … which really took me by surprise.

Yes, this tea does have many of the qualities I’ve come to expect from a high quality Ceylon – it is a even-tempered tea, but, I certainly wouldn’t call it mild!  It has a lovely robust, malty quality like an Assam might offer, but it is not as aggressive as an Assam.  It has a very smooth, even flavor to it … smooth from start to finish.  Toward the finish, I notice hints of citrus … it’s a really refreshing finish.

A really delightful Ceylon that tastes great hot or iced.  I found myself wanting more when my cup was empty!  One of the nicest pure Ceylon teas I’ve had in a while – I recommend this one highly.