Candied Yams from Bluebird Tea

There’s something supremely fun about unusual seasonal blends that only come out at the most festive times of year. When I heard about the blend, Candied Yams from Bluebird Tea, I had to get a taste.  

So, Candied Yams?  I’ve had my fair share of mashed sweet potatoes (yams) and squash with butter and brown sugar, and the sweet, earthy, orange mash is a delicious side to any holiday dinner.  (We’ve even forgotten to put the sweet potatoes out during dinner one year, and ate it with spice cookies during dessert, and they were still a winner).  No wonder I like the cinnamon and nutmeg alongside the yams in this tea blend.  

This tea blend is going for an even sweeter version of sweet potatoes; the kind that were baked in a casserole and topped with marshmallows.  Cooking with marshmallows seems like the most nostalgic, American ideal, like putting marshmallows in ambrosia salad.  All you need to know is that this tea also has mini marshmallows, and plenty of them to make the tea leaves look festive and the blend taste sugary-sweet.  

Beyond the carrot-like yam sweetness, this brew also has a fair bit of tartness, like red cranberry, which comes from the small dash of hibiscus in the blend.  This red-berry flavor adds a touch of mulled wine flavor alongside the sweet earthiness and light spice.  I figure that if my family can put orange flavored dried cranberries in their Thanksgiving stuffing then this flavor profile makes some sense in this tea.  

Don’t worry if you’re more excited about the yams than the cranberries, the yams are the driving force of this blend, most noticeable in the scent and aftertaste.  After each sip, I get the sweet and starchy potato flavors, reminding me a bit of carrot cake with walnuts.  As the initial sweetness fades on my tongue, the brew has a great, mellow, nutty, taste.  

If you’re a fan of weird holiday brews, I’d recommend you pick up a sample of Candied Yams before the sweet-potato-yam season passes.  And if you get super inspired, you can even bake a marshmallow-yam casserole to accompany your cup of tea.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.

Always looking forward to those sweet candied yams at Thanksgiving? Wish you had an excuse to enjoy ’em all year round? We hear you!  Now you can get into the festive spirit with this Limited Edition holiday tea – it’s Thanksgiving in a cup!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Halmari Gold Assam by Golden Tips Tea

Halmari-ClonalTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Assam is a celebrated tea growing region in the world and there is no doubt over the fact that Assam black teas are the most sought-after in the world. However, even in Assam, there are those rare and special days when ideal climatic conditions backed by intuitive manufacturing excellence garnered by years of experience prepares something as rare as this Halmari Gold Clonal Black Tea.
Handpicked from superior P126 clonal bushes at the Halmari Tea estate, the opulent appearance of the tea is characteristic of an almost equal combination of black and golden tipped leaves with a smooth texture. Carved out selectively from specially plucked tender young shoots, the tea brings in a unique rich maltiness which is only found in select Assams during the peak second flush tea growing season. The flavor is exhilarating with a perfect balance of strength, full-body and smoothness. This unique clonal tea brings in a sweet fruity finish in the mouth with a lingering aftertaste. The highest grade GTGFOP1 CL leaves prepare a sharp infusion which can be brewed several times. A bright golden amber liquoring cup greets your eyes when you strain out the royal dark brownish infusion.
An absolute luxury, the finest of the finest and clearly one of the best Assam black teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a second flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in June 2014 on the Halmari Tea Estate. The dry leaf smells sweet and malty with a rich, nutty undertone, and it’s a treasure to look at. The leaves themselves are fairly thin and a little curly, mostly dark brown but with some lighter golden tipped leaves, and some pure golden leaves, scattered throughout. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright reddish-brown, and I added a splash of milk.

When I read the name of this tea, I was hoping that it would be a “Golden Lion” variety. These Assams have a lot in common with Chinese Yunnan black teas, which I absolutely adore. Judging by the scent of the wet leaf, it looks like my wish has been granted. Sweet potato and chocolate notes abound!

To taste, this one is an absolute delight. The initial sip is quite strong – very, very malty, with a strong squashy, yam like flavour. It’s also quite tannic, so perhaps to be avoided on an empty stomach. Successive sips show this to be a very smooth tea, although I’m pretty sure the milk is helping to round out what might otherwise have been quite rough edges. The chocolate notes emerge towards the end of the sip, and add an extra layer of sweet creaminess to what is already a sweet, smooth, malty cup. This is certainly a full-bodied tea; rich and flavourful, and immensely satisfying as a mid-afternoon pick me up.

This is a tea I’d recommend to all Assam fans – relative newcomers and experienced aficionados alike. It’s a very punchy cup, and certainly doesn’t hold back, but it’s also a good, solid example of the variety. I’d also recommend it to those who enjoy Chinese black teas, since it shares some similar characteristics. I really enjoyed my time with this tea, and it’s definitely one I’d look to repurchase in the future.

Oriental Beauty Cake from The Mountain Tea Company

Oriental Beauty Cake from The Mountain Tea Company
Oriental Beauty Cake from The Mountain Tea Company

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy: The Mountain Tea Company

Tea Description:

It’s no wonder this tea is also called Champagne Oolong.  This Oriental Beauty in compressed cake form tastes of apricots, thick with honeyed spice.  Simply break off a piece and enjoy. 3.8 oz

Other names: Champagne Oolong, Formosa Fancy Oolong, Braggart’s Tea – Peng Feng Cha – 椪風茶, White Tip Oolong – Bai Hao Oolong – 白毫乌龙, Dong Fang Mei Ren – 东方美人
Water: 85°C

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oriental Beauty Cake from The Mountain Tea Company is one of the prettiest teas I have ever seen, let alone the pretties cake I have ever seen! There is also a lovely story about this tea’s creation and discovery here.

Well to begin this is an organic tea so points for that! Furthermore it is a pressed oolong yet has a distinctive pu’er flavor profile. Perhaps the pressing of this tea into a cake is only for presentation and novelty but I swear that in doing so it has manifested itself into a more earthy tea like a pu’er. Whatever the case may be – my imagination or reality, this is such a wonderful cup.

I will confess, I am getting a bit of a tea high while sipping on it. Either that or I just need a nap but I am feeling quite laid back and cozy in this sipping moment.

The aroma is a sensory explosion! Sweetly floral, and fruity, peppery notes, and the aroma of a wooded place. The aftertaste is so very familiar – what IS that flavor? Savory, vegetal, something buttered perhaps, GAH what is it? … Squash, Zucchini perhaps. I will come back to that another time it may drive me batty. It is delicious regardless!

I am surprised at just how bold this cup is. There is only a slight touch of astringency to it, but I like it as it has this slight bite then changes into that mystery flavor I was trying to pin point above.

I do also pick out notes of fruits, honey, and spices. It is in a way reminiscent of spending a day at the farmers market or maybe something a little more extravagant like a Moroccan market perhaps.

Ah the second infusion really brings forth the fruit notes! Now I get that raisin note that another reviewer had mentioned on Steepster!

I had got distracted while doing this review and came back to a very cold cup of tea and you know what. Its really good!

This really is not what I generally gravitate toward in an oolong but when I don’t think of it as an oolong I love it. Okay I love it even when trying to see it as an oolong. I think the point I am trying to make is, is that if someone handed me a cup of this I would think it either a black tea with some excellent layers in the flavor notes or perhaps a pu’er. I would be very confused.

I am also pretty sure this is the type of oolong served at a couple of the local Asian buffets here local to me. Now granted I do not think they are near this level of quality of an Oriental Beauty Oolong but hey at least its not Liptons!

So in closing I must say I am excited, surprised, confused, intoxicated, and wooed by this tea. I look forward to many many more steepings and sessions to come with this beautiful cake!

Kudos to The Mountain Tea Company for always having some of the best teas!

Oh and if you order from The Mountain Tea Company be sure to look for the button on their item pages that says “Tweet for Discount” if you have a twitter account you can get a code for 5% off your purchase.

Doke Thunder Second Flush from Rare Tea Republic

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Rare Tea Republic

Tea Description:

Ripe apricot, butternut squash, sweet finish.

A juicy ripe apricot aroma leads to an exceptionally flavorful liquor with vegetal undertones of cooked butternut squash and a lingering finish. .

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I bought a sample of this, along with about 12 others, from Rare Tea Republic a week ago and today I picked it from my grab bag of RTR teas to taste.

This is an Oolong? I had to check three times to be sure. I was extremely sleepy when having this as my morning wake up cup, I thought perhaps because I generally have a black tea in the morning, and that is what I thought I had grabbed I thought that I must have been mistaken when I went to Rare Tea Republic site and saw it was an oolong! Surely that was a mistake on their site. To me, this tastes like a black tea.

I am even a little surprised by the flavor palate of this tea – again to me it rings more true to a black tea.

Regardless, letting go of all that and just allowing myself to sink into the tea itself, submersing my distractions of what this tea is supposed to be and just appreciating the tea in and of itself I could not be more pleased.

This tea reminds me of walking through our local fruit farm in the fall. Today’s weather here in my town could not be more perfect. Its like the weather had planned my tea selection this morning. Its cool and crisp outside, leaves are gently blowing around, my yard is the neighborhood’s catch all for fallen leaves, and I LOVE it! The aroma and flavor from this tea are fresh butternut squash, apricots that are a bit over ripened and reduced for quick sale, (the juiciest), autumn leaves, moist air and wet leaves, all indicative of the weather we are having today. Yesterday it was sunny, balmy, and hot, but hey I live in Kansas, as they say if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes, it will change! My local fruit farm which is down the road from me, is chalk full of the very things this tea evokes at this time of year.

Also there are wonderful flavor notes of syrup, and malt. This is like no other oolong I have ever experienced! The astringency is even aligned with a quality black! I can’t get past the fresh squash note. It is so spot on, so perfect. What a lovely treat on this cool October morning!

Surprised, yes, but delighted for sure! This is one enjoyable cup with wonderful flavor notes that are sure to please!