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reviewing

Huang Shan Mao Feng by Driftwood Tea. . . . . .

I steeped a tablespoon of leaf in about a cup of 175-degree water for three minutes. (The directions said to use a tablespoon per pot but didn’t say what pot size to use, so I just stuck it in my mug because I was like, it’s probably not going to turn out too strong anyway. And I was right!)

The dry leaf smells a bit vegetal, a bit astringent. Some of the leaves are more intact than others but on the whole they’re long and thin, dark green, and some even slightly fuzzy. They seem to be the growing tips of the plant (a leaf and a bud).

The tea is still almost perfectly clear after it’s finished steeping; it just has the faintest off-white, almost peachy tinge to it. It’s even clearer in color than many white teas I’ve seen!

First sip: it’s light, almost floral, and has vegetal flavors only on the back of the tongue. None of the flavors are very “forward” in the mouth except maybe the light floralness that comes at the front of the sip. It’s not too astringent, but it has a little brightness to it and even offers a comforting, energizing aftertaste. It’s definitely not too overpowering; however, the high-quality leaves should stand up to multiple steepings.

I’ve had to use my sneaky detective skills to find out more about this tea because the info isn’t up on the company’s website right now. Huang Shan Mao Feng is apparently a type of green tea, judging by the processing techniques (no oxidation time, et cetera) but the flavor really reminds me more of a white tea or even maybe a super-mild sheng (raw pu-erh) tea.

Altogether it’s a light, gentle cup that I’d recommend for relaxed, pensive afternoons where you’re not necessarily looking for something super dark or highly caffeinated.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Driftwood Tea
Description

This tea doesn’t appear to be on the site now but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Vivacious Vitalitea by Vampyre Tea Company (Cup of Love). . . . .

Steeping: 3 g at 212°  in 1 cup for two minutes. . .

This is my first tea of the day so let’s hope it lives up to its name! It’s a rooibos-based blend, but it does have green tea as well so it’s not caffeine-free.

As the tea steeps, I’m watching it and catching a sniff here and there. I’m catching some whiffs of rooibos fragrance and, leaning closer, some honeylike flavor as well (which I at first thought came from honeybush, although I later discovered honeybush does not seem to be in the ingredients list). The liquid is turning dark reddish orange and I notice that a few bits of tea have escaped the mesh as well. (I would recommend using a finer mesh if you don’t prefer having small bits in your tea). It also smells a little bit acidic. The first sip has an interesting hint of flavor that I can’t quite place – citrus maybe? Or perhaps it’s from the rose petal I saw in the tea leaves before steeping. The overall flavor is sweet and not bitter at all or very astringent either; the flavor is welcoming but not too exciting. It doesn’t need any sugar, though, because it’s already so sweet. This tea could be a nice intro to rooibos; it does have some other flavors such as rose petals too, but they’re not too overpowering so you can still taste the rooibos flavor.

It’s good with milk too! Adding milk was actually a very interesting experiment because it ended up bringing out a completely different side of the flavor profile. I’d almost think that I was drinking a totally different kind of tea! That doesn’t happen often (and I do almost always add milk to my tea so I have plenty of experience).

Overall, I’d say this is a great, enjoyable rooibos combination with plenty of sweetness, perhaps a little citrus and/or rose flavor, and definitely no need for sugar. And according to the label it’s also organic and fair trade!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Rooibos
Where to Buy:  Cup of Love
Description

A revitalizing blend of herbs, flowers, and Green & Rooibos Teas to give you a boost of energy throughout your day.  Its effervescent flavor is smooth without the bitter crash of an energy

drink.  It leaves the body feeling clean, refreshed, and renewed for all of life’s adventures.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Rose Chateau by The Love Tea Co

I steeped this tea at 200 degrees in about a cup of water for about four minutes.

This is another selection from the Love Tea Company, who donates a quarter of their proceeds to mental health causes. Their teas also come in cute little reusable canisters!

The dried leaf has rose petals and other flower petals too, it looks like. According to the ingredients list these could be hibiscus, calendula, or sunflower petals, which are all included in the blend! In addition, there’s green tea in here and some curled oolong bits and some pieces of dried fruit (which turn out to be rosehips based on the ingredients list). It smells mainly fruity, with some rose/floral scent.

The steeped liquid looks almost pinkish-peach and smells like strawberry with floral notes and some savory green tea flavor.
I steeped for four minutes because it didn’t seem very strong at three (and I prefer getting stronger flavor out of my tea when I can).

First sip: it tastes a little astringent and strawberryish; the rose flavor isn’t overpowering here (maybe I just didn’t get any rose petals in my scoop of leaf?). It’s delicate and reminds me the most of a strawberry-flavored green tea, which is quite nice and desserty. There’s a bit of seaweedy vegetalness in the back of the throat. A few particles of tea escaped the strainer so I’d recommend a fine mesh if you don’t like that sort of thing (although mostly they’re just sitting on the bottom of the cup not causing a problem).

Overall it’s light, floral/fruity, but with a hint of buttery aftertaste (from the oolong), so I’d say it’s great for afternoon or evening relaxation (unless you’re super-sensitive to caffeine; green tea generally has just a little).


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green/Black
Where to Buy: The Love Tea Company
Description

This blend was created by a Canadian Master to evoke the character and spirit of France’s best rose vintages.  It’s combination of some of the most luxurious green and black teas available today.  Like wine, it goes perfectly with cured meats and fine cheeses.  Milk and sugar are NOT recommended with this one.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast Black Tea by Steeped Tea

I steeped this tea for two minutes at 212 degrees, with one heaping teaspoon per cup of water.
So this is another tea company I haven’t tried before, how exciting! Let’s get right to the details of this tea. I guess it’s a blend of black teas, since that ‘s how english breakfast teas are generally made.  It has a nice, hearty, strong fragrance, which is of course exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from a breakfast tea (after all, it’s meant to help you wake up in the morning, right?).
It smells a smidge bitter while steeping, but mainly you notice that strong, robust tea flavor! After steeping, it doesn’t look super dark; instead, there’s a cedar-like, chestnutty color, and it’s very clear rather than opaque. The smell fortunately is less bitter after steeping has ended, and I can detect some malty notes.
The tea itself isn’t noticeably viscous/thickened. At the first sip I notice plenty of astringency combined with a tad of bitterness, but not a lot. It’s not too bitter (not as bitter as you’d expect from how it smelled while steeping), so I’m sure people who like really strong tea (or coffee) would love it, or it would be perfect for if you’re planning to have it with milk and sugar. Or, to avoid the bitterness, I’d consider steeping it a tad cooler next time.
While sipping this I can detect plenty of tannins–it seems to be a highly oxidized tea, which is just what black tea is supposed to be, but it also has an extremely tangy flavor, which I find quite helpful for waking up in the mornings (or even in the afternoons if I’m having a hard time staying awake after lunch).
There’s not much in the way of floral or cocoa notes, although there may be a touch of maltiness deepening the flavor here and there.
Of course I also had to add milk (to test my it-would-be-great-with-milk theory) and discovered that this tea is indeed lovely with milk, and that the milk takes out the bitterness just as I was hoping. With milk this tea has a strong, creamy, and excellent flavor, and I find it to be exactly the sort of tea I enjoy the most. <3

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy:  Steeped Tea
Description
This classic breakfast tea is fresh, full and flavorful. Traditionally served with milk.
Ingredients: Black tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Organic Greek Mountain Tea by Klio

Steeping time 4 minutes, 1/2 cup boiling water, 2 g of tea leaves and stems.

I have always been an avid herb gardener (although not, alas, always a successful one) and today I noticed what exactly it is about this type of tea that I found familiar. The leaves are similar in appearance (silvery and fuzzy) and even similar in shape to Lamb’s Ear, and I think the fragrance may be similar as well, although Lamb’s Ear  is not actually well-known for its smell. (Plus, I can never manage to keep it alive so I don’t actually have a Lamb’s Ear plant to compare right now). When I looked it up, I discovered that the two plants are in the same family, i.e. the Mint family . . . but then so are hundreds and thousands of other plants, so that doesn’t mean they’re actually closely related. I guess it’s just the type of family resemblance that sometimes shows up unexpectedly between distant cousins.

The other thing that the leaves remind me of is licorice, or at least those licorice-flavored herbal teas that you drink when you’re sick with a cold. (Actually I may be thinking of the combination of licorice and slippery elm flavors? But I’m not positive.) It’s not an unpleasant fragrance, and I can imagine this tea being pleasant to drink.

As I steep the tea, the fragrance emerges more, but not at overpowering levels. The tea liquid itself does not appear to change color greatly, and after steeping appears slightly yellowish but not extremely so. The fragrance hasn’t gotten much stronger in the last couple of minutes.

The first sip is not quite as flavorful as the fragrance, but it does support my impression of this tea as being similar to an herbal tea used to treat colds. It tastes slightly sweet in the back of the mouth. It doesn’t seem all that viscous, but it’s probably giving my throat a nice protective coating as I drink it. It doesn’t need sugar, which is a good thing because if you’re going to drink it every day for your health then you wouldn’t want to add sugar or you’d counteract the health benefits, right? It definitely tastes healthy, but in a good, gentle way, not in a bitter-green-smoothie type of way.

I’m not going to say that I want to replace my regularly scheduled tea breaks with this herbal tea, but since it’s caffeine free I bet it would be a great nightcap. Plus, it does have quite a soothing and calming effect, so add that to its other benefits (such as its health benefits) and it turns out to be quite a valuable beverage!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal
Where to Buy:  Klio Greek Tea
Description

This variety, Sideritis Scardica, comes from the legendary Mount Olympus, in the Balkans, situated between Thessaly and Macedonia.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!