Mindful Morning Blend from Plum Deluxe

mindful-morning-blendTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe

Tea Description:

The mindful morning blend is the Plum Deluxe take on classic Earl Grey.

Everyone loves Earl Grey, but we found a way to make it even better so that we can start every day with a tea blend that is truly luxurious. We began with our absolute favorite black tea, Ceylon – it is a tea from Sri Lanka that has a gentle vanilla flavor to it. We then added a tiny pinch of sweet honey, a bit of flavor and color with the cornflowers, and topped it off with the bergamot oil that makes earl grey so famous. The orange peels give it a final flavor boost.

All Plum Deluxe teas are hand-blended and infused with love in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m enjoying my second cup of this tea.  With the first cup, I neglected to “shake” the pouch and this is one tea where you want to do that.  There are honey crystals in the tea and they tend to settle to the bottom of the package so you want to mix it up a little before you scoop out the tea.

I wasn’t too sure about having honey crystals in my tea.  I have often said that I prefer it when tea companies don’t put sugar, honey crystals, stevia or other sweeteners in my tea because I like to decide if I want to have a sweeter tea.  I like to make that decision for myself and not have it made for me.  But, I like the honey in this.  I like the touch of honey flavor.

To brew this, I used my Kati Tumbler.  I decided to use the tumbler rather than the tea maker because I didn’t want to put honey in the tea maker.  I don’t know why, but, I made the catastrophic mistake of attempting to heat milk in an electric tea kettle a long time ago, (before there was a Breville One-Touch) and since that time, I have been very careful about what I’ll put in my kettles.

Learn from my mistake and don’t ever heat anything except water in tea kettles.  Just say no.

After shaking the pouch and getting some of those honey crystals to the surface, I measured 1 bamboo scoop of tea into the basket of my Kati and added 12 ounces of boiling water to the tumbler.  I steeped the tea for 3 minutes and removed the basket.  Now I have a tumbler full of Earl Grey yumminess.

This is actually a spin on an Earl Grey Creme tea.  And it’s quite lovely.

The black tea base is a smooth, medium-bodied Ceylon.  It has a pleasant flavor that’s a little earthy and a wee bit malty.  It has a slightly dry finish, indicating some astringency.  I would say it’s mildly astringent and it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the cup or the smoothness of the sip.

The bergamot is not exceptionally strong in this blend, but I think that’s probably because the vanilla notes have softened the bergamot, creating a lovely citrus-y, creamy flavor that hints at caramel tones.  Bring in the light honey notes from the honey crystals and that’s where this tea really “hits the sweet spot.”  The honey plus the caramel is delightfully delicious.

I do get a bright, tangy note of bergamot that’s softer than a typical Earl Grey.  Then again, this isn’t a typical Earl Grey and it’s not meant to be.  The vanilla adds a touch creamy.  The orange peel highlights the brightness of the bergamot.  And these flavors mingle in a really beautiful way with the aforementioned honeyed caramel.  Mmm!

This is the first tea that I’ve tried from Plum Deluxe, and I’m so pleased with it!  I really like what I’ve seen (and tasted!) from this company thus far.  I love that they’re a company based locally (Portland, Oregon) and I was touched by the story that inspired the company.   And I just LOVED getting a purple bubble envelope in the mail the other day!  What fun!  (Get it?  Plum Deluxe?  Purple Envelope?  Loved it!)

High Mountain Red Tea from Foxfire Teas


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Foxfire Teas

Tea Description:

This beautiful black tea from the Yunnan Province in China has a beautiful dried leaf appearance and once steeped it has a wonderful robust aroma with slight fruit notes.  This tea is part of the Limited Collection, so we have a very small quantity available and once it is sold out, we may not see it again until it is next harvested.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh.  My.  Goodness!

This is soooo good.

Once upon a time … (Once upon a tea?) I tasted Dawn from Simple Leaf.  Dawn is one of the very best teas I’ve ever had the privilege to sample, and of the pure black teas I’ve sampled, it is definitely in the top three if not at the #1 spot.  Unfortunately, Simple Leaf is no longer in business.  (sob)  But every once in a while, I will encounter a tea that reminds me so much of that amazing experience that I had with Dawn.

This moment with High Mountain Red Tea from Foxfire Teas is one such experience.

The dry leaf is beautiful – long, curly, wiry leaves of dark chocolate brown that smell of sweet fruit, notes of chocolate and hints of caramel.  And after the tea brews, that is the fragrance that surrounds my olfactory nerves when I take a deep whiff of this magical brew.

And that’s what I taste too.  The flavor is sweet, rich and smooth.  Well-rounded.  Notes of cacao.  Undertones of sweet, luscious caramel.  Sweet fruit notes that are reminiscent of apple, plum and currant – but with no tartness.  Just the sweet tones of those fruits!  There is a pleasant … what I’m going to call “savory” quality … toward mid-sip.  This “savory” quality is not bitterness, it is not sweetness, it is not tart or tangy … it’s just … smooth and robust and … well, savory.

There is no bitterness to this cup … and virtually nothing that resembles astringency.  There might be the slightest twang of a tangy pucker towards the finish.  But this is so slight that if you’re not paying very strict attention, you’ll miss it.

Easily one of the best cups of tea that I’ve had in a very long time – and I’ve had a lot of really, really good tea lately!

Black Currant from Foxfire Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Foxfire Teas

Tea Description:

Delicious Assam black tea flavored with black currant gives this tea a nice fruity pop; super delicious iced or hot and a great mixer for cocktails

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As it turns out, this is going to be a day for Portland teas … at least for me.  I just got finished writing a review for Mt. Hood Vanilla tea from Townshend’s Tea that will appear later this evening, and now I am trying tea from another Portland company – one I’ve not yet tried but have wanted to for quite some time now:  Foxfire Teas!

From the moment I opened the pouch of this tea, I couldn’t stop smelling it.  The aroma is AMAZING!  It smells so sweet and fruity, it brings me back in time to when my gramma had a grapevine in her backyard and she’d cook the grapes and make grape jelly.  She eventually removed the grapevine and replaced it with ollaliberries, but that’s another story.

Now, as I’ve stated before, I’m not generally a big fan of grape flavored things.  I don’t really care for grape juice (I mean, it’s alright, but I’d prefer other juices), and I won’t eat grape flavored ice pops or grape flavored candies.  I don’t really even like grape jelly, although I did like gramma’s grape jelly, and I think that is why I am loving the fragrance of this tea so much … it smells so much like my gramma’s kitchen when she’d make grape jelly.

But of course, this is not a grape flavored tea, it is a Black Currant flavored tea.  However, I’ve not eaten a lot of fresh black currants (they’re not especially easy to find, I was surprised a few weeks ago while shopping at my local Whole Foods to find them there), so I can’t really compare the scent to currants.  But currants and grapes are very similar in aroma, and fermented grapes (aka wine) often taste of currants.

And I’m glad to say that this indeed does taste like black currants and not of grapes.  It has a very bright, fruity flavor which is both sweet and tart, leaning a bit more toward the tart than to the sweet.  It is not too tart, though, at least not for my palate, and as I tend to not like a strong tart flavor that’s a good thing.

The black tea base is an Assam, and it definitely lets you know that its there.  It’s has a very powerful flavor – strong and bold!  This Assam is leaning slightly toward the wine-y tasting Assam rather than the malty; however there are some delightful malty tones in there as well.  Of course, the black currant flavor also lends to that wine-y taste.

I am sipping this hot, but I suspect that it would also make a delightful iced tea with its strong fruit notes.  This is certainly one of the best black currant teas that I’ve tried.  I love the strong, full-bodied taste of the Assam and and how nicely it melds with the flavor of the currant.

An excellent tea – and I’m very proud that it’s a local company.  And even if you don’t live near Portland, you can still try this tea as they do sell their teas online.  I’ve had the opportunity to converse with Katherine via email and she has such a wonderfully warm personality.   I love it when I find a tea company that offers great teas and excellent customer service!

Vanilla Rose Chai from Tea Chai Té

The beautiful waterfall on the patio of the Sellwood location of Tea Chai Té.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea Chai Té

About Tea Chai Té:

We are a locally owned casual tea house specializing in handcrafted organic tea blends. We offer over 120 tea selections, of which 75 are organic. 15 unique handcrafted chai blends are made to order. We always have house brewed kombucha on tap and our bubble teas are stellar! We also offer high mountain oolongs, mate blends, apothecary teas, and more. Now featuring a special kids menu for little ones to enjoy the pleasures tea brings.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the newer blends available at Tea Chai Té – so new, in fact, that I cannot locate it on the website.  I guess it has not yet been added!  I picked this chai up when I visited the Sellwood location about a month ago.

I purchased three teas that day.  The Strawberry Sencha I selected because that is the tea I happened to order as an iced tea, so I wanted to take some home with me to try it hot (and of course, review it!)  I chose the Vanilla Macadamia Nut Maté because I don’t usually order Maté blends and I wanted to step outside my comfort zone.  I chose this chai because I simply could not resist it.  It sounded so yummy, I had to try it!

Wow!  This is incredible!  The spices are mellow and warm.  This is not a spicy chai.  It is warmly spiced; not spicy-hot.  I taste the cinnamon and cardamom most prominently.  The vanilla tones are almost as strong as the cinnamon, which gives it a sweet, creamy taste that is quite luxurious.  The touch of rose adds to that taste of luxury.

The black tea is not overwhelmed here.  It provides a richly satisfying, slightly malty tone in the background.  It supports the flavors of the spices as well as the vanilla and rose notes without attempting to overpower them – it is content to stay in the background and let the other ingredients do their thing.

I absolutely love this.  It is one of the best “mild” chai blends I’ve had, and while I usually tend to prefer a spicy-hot kind of chai, this is one that is so good I can see keeping it as a part of my permanent tea stash.  It’s that good!

Strawberry Sencha from Tea Chai Té

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Tea Chai Té

Tea Description:

This Japanese sencha tea is flavored with bits of strawberry, creating a strong aroma reminiscent of frolicking in the buff, hand in hand with your lover, through a strawberry patch.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

On Tuesday, my dear husband took me out for lunch in the Sellwood neighborhood in Portland, and after lunch, he pulled up directions to the new Tea Chai Té in the neighborhood and asked me if I wanted to go.  Yes, I proclaimed quite enthusiastically!

I have tried teas from Tea Chai Té, but I haven’t actually been to either location (they have another location on 23rd Street in Portland).  So, I was really excited to check out this tea lounge.  This establishment is an old, red train caboose turned into a tea lounge.  This is not one of those fancy tea houses (although I like those too), this is a lounge, complete with a comfortable, casual atmosphere where people were reading their tablets and browsing the internet on their laptops.

I had ordered a 20 oz. cup of this tea iced, as well as purchased a 1 ounce loose leaf package to take with me.  And while I did enjoy the tea that they made for me at Tea Chai Té (and the guy who worked the counter was so pleasant), I have to admit that I’m finding this cup that I made myself to be much better than the one that was made for me.  This tastes stronger than that one did, so I suspect that either they should have made a more concentrated brew before icing it.

This is amazing.  The Sencha tastes and feels smooth and buttery.  The green tea offers a barely-there grassy note in the distance, while allowing the strawberry flavor to be the focus of this cup.

The straberry melds deliciously with the aforementioned buttery tones, giving it an almost berries and cream kind of quality.  Sweet, juicy strawberry flavor that tastes very authentic – like someone had liquified a fresh, ripe strawberry and added it to my teacup.  YUM!