Fruit Punch tea from The NecessiTeas totally smells like a juice I’d have had as a kid…. Not sure if I’m very into it now as an adult though, as there is an grape additive that isn’t quite doing it for me, but we know with teas, smells can be deceiving. There looks to be more oolong tea leaves than fruits/herbs, which is always a plus.
It brews into quite a beautiful golden pear liquor, I’m so so glad this does not include hibiscus’ neon magenta “punch” color, kudos to the maturity shown with this modernizing twist. Fruit Punch need not be just for children anymore 🙂
OoOoo it tastes very different than it smells! Actually there’s a really beautiful flavor transition through the different fruit flavors, a warm strawberry that becomes citrus. I love the playful complexity of this oolong choice. I want to personify it as similar to me, older and wiser but secretly musing on what shenanigans I can expect at the next high school reunion. I think the lemongrass brings some brightness and keeps it away from the saccharine extreme I expected from a “childish” seeming name… yeah, yeah, I’m judgy with names, moving along. There is a short and sweetish aftertaste, even before I added stevia. This blend is good for a resteep, and despite my first-whiff-misgivings, it’s really pretty enjoyable. Aptly deemed a necessary tea when catching up with a school days pal and feeling nostalgic.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: The Necessiteas
This blend brings back childhood memories of me at the pool with a red stained smile on my face. What is even better about this tea, you don’t have to have a red stained smile to be happy. Fruit punch is a spring and summer must have around here! If it’s a party, shower or barbecue, they just seem to go hand in hand. So obviously I had to create a punch inspired tea. If you’re anything like me and enjoyed that sweet red punch as a kid then you’ll love this refreshing combo of strawberry, cherry and orange.
Your tea is hand packaged in an airtight tin at no additional charge.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Mini Yunnan Toucha Mix from Teasenz – Reflection on Scent and Memory
I am far from an expert, but I’ve always been both intimidated and entranced by pu erh tea. The tea comes packed in cakes and wrapped in decorative papers, and you might even have a tea pick especially for breaking up these tightly packed leaves. There’s a proper way to brew and taste pu erh, and all kinds of special teapots and accessories. There’s something inherently magical about having the right tools for an ancient ritual. With the Mini Yunnan Toucha mix sampler from Teasenz, I could give the whole thing a try at my kitchen table.
I’ve brewed enough bad cups of pu erh tea to know that it’s worth following the instructions. For this sampler I used the following process for each: 20 second awakening rinse (pour off the liquid), 5-10 second brews following. I only did three brews for each tea, though a good pu erh session would have many more. I only used a small piece of each tea cake for my taste-test– I would not recommend throwing the whole thing in your teapot, no matter how small and cute the tea cake is.
For instructions I found helpful, I recommend Teasenz advice on using this sampler and White2Tea’s guide on on brewing pu erh at home.
I’m going to use the same naming convention that Teasenz used on its website, referring to the teas by the color ink on their wrappings.
First up was the brown wrapper tea. This smelled like what I typically associate with pu erh: wet hay, earth, and old leather. If you’re new to pu erh, these flavors may take a little getting used to. Feel free to shorten your steep times to as little as 1 to 3 seconds if anything gets too intense. This tea very much smelled like the outdoors after the rain, with notes of wet mulch and damp leaves. I mention all these wet adjectives because there was definitely a sense of age or plant decay in the smell and taste.
The mouthfeel of pu erh is worth noticing, known for being exceedingly smooth, some might even describe it as creamy. Black teas can be bitter or have a strong astringent bite, but no such sensation was present in the brown wrapper tea. By the second and third steep, I continued to notice wet garden flavors, with more mineral tones like mushroom or beets or kale, especially on the aftertaste. The wet hay fragrance remained throughout, coming on the strongest when first brewed and dissipating slightly as the tea cooled.
Next was the red wrapper tea, in a cube shape. This tea felt similar to the brown wrapper, with notes of wet earth and grass. However there was a bit of brightness in the red tea that wasn’t present in the brown, maybe citrus or orange, a touch of something tart. The second steep had more of this brightness, like lemongrass, along with the typical pu erh wet hay flavors. By the third steep, the citrus verged to more of a bright pine note. If the brown wrapper tea was a deciduous woods full of wet, autumn leaves, then this red wrapper tea was a damp, evergreen forest with crushed hemlock needles and pine resin.
After the brown and red teas, the blue wrapper tea was quite a departure. As soon as I rinsed the leaves, I was hit with a striking popcorn scent. According to Teasnez, this “sticky rice” flavor is a staple of certain pu erh teas. My boyfriend was walking by the room at this point and said it smelled like Fritos corn chips! As for the taste, this tea still had the expected wet grass notes, but the brew was more savory, like a soup broth. The plant-like flavors were a little different than the brown and red tea cakes, this time tasting more like corn or celery. As I tried more steeps with this tea, the sticky rice note became more mellow, and the damp earth and corn husk flavors were more prevalent, smelling more like an autumn cornfield maze.
Finally we get to the yellow wrapped tea. This is a different type of pu erh tea entirely. The brown, red, and blue wrapper teas were all pu erh shou tea. The yellow wrapped tea is a pu ehr sheng. Shou tea is fermented prior to packaging, while sheng teas are packaged “raw” and age in the package over time. This yellow wrapped sheng tea occupied a flavor profile somewhere between the wet earth flavors of the brown wrapper tea, and the toasty rice notes of the blue wrapper tea. The yellow wrapper tea had flavors like starchy baked bread and old paper alongside the damp grass tones. This tea had the most variation between steeps, the second steep having flavors that reminded me of black licorice or roasted nuts, and the third steep brightening up to more of a celery and sweetgrass blend.
Personally, I find the smells and tastes of pu ehr tea to be memory-inducing, reminding me of playing and exploring as a kid. The scents of damp paper or old leather are akin to going into an undisturbed attic, and the damp earth scents make me think about playing in neighbors’ barns or crawling under the porch for hide-and-seek, while the wet leaves flavors make me think of walking in the woods after the rain. The flavors of these aged tea leaves provide me with a strong sense of nostalgia and history.
Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic here, and I’ve just brewed one too many cups of tea for one afternoon. Either way, I highly recommend this sampler as a great way to experiment with pu ehr tea and its traditions.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Teasenz
If you are new to pu erh tea and have yet to discover the different types of aromas it offers, then this mini tuocha tea mix is the right place to start. Reap the weight loss benefits of this pu erh while enjoying the diverse mix of flavors that ensure you will never get bored.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Rice Crispy Treat Black Tea from The East Indies Coffee and Tea Company
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: East Indies Tea Company
No one can resist the fluffy, gooey marshmallow taste of this fun blend!
Learn more about this tea here.
The East Indies Tea and Coffee Company is probably the most old-school tea company I have ever dealt with. I have never even heard of them until Marzipan from Steepster offered a group buy of their teas. They so their teas to Della Terra, which is on hiatus until further notice. I am such a sucker for tea names, I figured, why the hell not?
The first tea to try out of the gate, this was also the first tea I pulled out of the box. This is such a fragrant tea! The dry leaf is just dripping with gooey marshmallow sweetness. There are pieces of rice crispies in the bag, lending to the malty smell, as well as some strange dust of pulverized cereal pieces. It’s probably one of the strongest smelling teas I have smelled. (probably to date, it’s quite the head rush!)
Upon steeping the tea, I do get a bit of a sour note from the base black tea. Nothing that makes me want to put down the cup though. I can see this tea being a treat iced, because of the robustness in the cup. The rice crispness of the tea is the show stopper here, the sweet marshmallow and the rice flour richness is quite strong, and I expected no less from this blend. I actually resteeped this too, with interesting results. The sweetness was almost all that was left, and there was little malty note from the tea base/rice crispies. A crazy decadent black tea, great for you dessert lovers out there!
Nostalgia Dong Ding Oolong with Jasmine & Fresh Mint from Aftelier Perfumed Teas
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Aftelier Perfumed Teas
Rich and complex charcoal-roasted Tung-Ting oolong tea produces a fruity aroma that is exquisite with the cool mint and rich jasmine. These rolled leaves provide up to 4 infusions.
This tea is very interesting.
First of all, as a cup of this tea sits before me, it smells amazing. Like intoxicatingly (I don’t know if that was a word before now, but it is one now!) amazing. But with such an enchanting smell … I become a little apprehensive when it comes to taking a sip. What if it’s too perfume-y?
After all, it is a perfumed tea. That alone sort of indicates that it might come across as perfume-y tasting.
However, it doesn’t. The perfume melds with the buttery creaminess of the Oolong tea to create one of the most unusual yet delightful teas I’ve tasted in a very long time. The Oolong has a slightly roasted back note that seems to tie all the flavors together quite nicely. It’s a very unified taste.
That is not to say that the jasmine is not strong, because it is. It is quite strong (this tea is for jasmine lovers only!) and tastes very floral. But it tastes like a natural floral flavor; not a chemical-y, artificial-tasting, lab-recreated perfume.
The mint is quite a bit more subtle, but the flavor of it develops as I continue to sip. Similarly, the scent of the mint develops as I continue to smell the tea. The first couple of times I could barely smell the mint, and now it is more prominent, although it is still not as strong as the jasmine.
I recommend brewing this in a gaiwan – using short steep times. 30 seconds (or less) for the first infusion; increase by 15 seconds for each subsequent infusion. Any longer and you may wind up with a very strong jasmine taste.
If you love jasmine (and I do!) this tea is the ULTIMATE. You really must try it!
Formosa Nostalgia DongDing Oolong from auraTeas
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: auraTeas
Origin: Lugu, Nantou,Taiwan 鹿谷‧南投‧台灣
Style: Medium fermented Oolong, full bodied, fruity aroma
Loose leaf style: Half ball Dongding oolong style
Loose leaf color: Brownish dark green
Wet leaf style: Dark green center with brown red edge
Tea color: Golden yellow
Formosa Nostalgia Dongding is the modern version dedicated to grandpa’s Dongding Oolong. Strictly following traditional Dongding Oolong process, our Nostalgia Dongding is hand roasted, produces full bodied long lasting fruity aroma. This is the best choice if you are looking for retro style Dongding Oolong.
This Oolong is a little different than I’m used to, but in this case, different is definitely a good thing!
There is a bit of spiciness to the sip that I do not usually associate with Oolong tea, as well as a bitter note. This bitter note is not an offensive or off-putting bitter taste, but a savory one that provides a nice contrast to the sweet qualities of the cup and compliments the overall flavor profile of the tea.
The mouthfeel is smooth and slick. A light astringency does not allow the mouthfeel to linger, leaving a very clean aftertaste.
The sweet, nutty quality of this tea is enhanced by the toasty essence of this hand roasted tea. There is also a fruity note that is peach-like in the background.
A pleasant, full-flavored Oolong that I’m very glad I had the opportunity to try!