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Energy Pu-Erh from Komo Tea

The dry leaves are colorful with a strong berry fragrance. The look and smell make me feel very confident in the health value of this tea. A lot of the Chinese ingredients, I hadn’t tried before.

Naturally Pu-Erh has caffeine, then there’s an herbal boost from being hand blended with adaptagen herbs (which I totally googled, I’m not THAT granola. They’re good for stress).

This cold brewed up to be a deep maroon but the mouthfeel was very smooth. At first sniff I thought I couldn’t handle the flavor, but the cinnamon balances the fruit really well, like Dean from Supernatural eating a cherry pie. Very doable.

Overall, I believe this is a great tea, at the same time, one of the ingredients is more of an acquired taste… that I just haven’t acquired yet.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Pu-Erh
Where to Buy:  Komo Tea

Organic pu-erh tea from Yunnan Province, China is hand blended with adaptogen herbs – nature’s miracle anti-stress and fatigue fighters – producing fruity and spicy flavors that invigorate body and mind. Whether you’re looking for a mid-morning pick me up or a power boost before a workout, Energy gives you the endurance to power through when it counts.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

CTC Assam Exotic Black Tea by Golden Tips

ctc-AssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Even though Assam produces some exquisite orthodox teas, its CTC (Cut, Tear,Curl) grade of teas are cherished for their extremely bold character. They are known to have relatively bigger round granules which make for a bright red liquoring cup. Strong, robust, full-bodied and rich with a unique malltiness, this tea pairs up with your breakfast like bread does with butter.
It goes perfectly with milk and sugar and can also be enjoyed as a pure black tea when brewed in freshly boiled water for 3-5 minutes. Harvested in the peak second flush tea growing season, this exclusive offering will add a new aspect to your love for Assams. The perfect wake-up tea!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the Crush-Tear-Curl (or CTC) version of Golden Tips Tea’s signature blend Exotic Assam. For those unfamiliar, CTC is a method of mechanised tea processing, during which the tea leaves are passed through cylindrical rollers lined with tiny “teeth” which shred and roll the leaf into tiny pellets. The dry leaf smells very strong – malty with an edge of bitterness. It’s a smell I associate with the supermarket tea bags of my childhood. The leaf itself is a uniform black, formed into tiny balls.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a scant 1.5 minutes in boiling water. This one brews FAST, and the resulting liquor darkens to a deep chocolate brown mere seconds after the leaf is added to the water. The scent at this stage is powerful, too – it’s readily identifiable as “tea” in the best builder’s sense of the word. Like the dry leaf, it’s malty with a bitter edge. I added a good splash of milk.

To taste, this one seems a little generic. It’s sweet and malty, as Assam typically is, and it has a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel because of that. There’s a tiny hit of bitterness right at the end of the sip, although this intensifies as I continue to drink until it’s ultimately a little drying and astringent. My teeth actually feel a little “furry” after about half a cup, assumedly from the high tannin levels. This is definitely a full-bodied tea, but it’s a little one-note, and lacks some depth and complexity. It’s malty, for sure, but that’s about all I can really say.

This is a great convenience tea. It brews up quickly due to the CTC method of production, and it makes a strong, full-bodied cup that would readily assist the morning wake-up process. It’s perhaps a little heavy-handed, but a good slosh of milk smooths its rougher edges for the most part, with the exception of some bitterness. I think it’s fair to say that it lacks some subtlety, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad tea. It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a strong, everyday tea that’s both convenient and consistent, and sometimes that’s just the thing. There are other teas for other days.

I’m not huge CTC fan personally, but I appreciate that they have their place in the tea world, and they’re certainly well suited to some situations. This one is one of the better ones I’ve tried, and definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for this kind of tea. I like the fact that you can also purchase the full-leaf version of their Exotic Assam, as this affords the opportunity to compare (should you wish to), and ultimately to decide for yourself which option you prefer, or which suits you and your lifestyle best.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Chico Chai Strong Brew Chai Concentrate from Chico Chai


Product Information:

For more information, please visit:  Chico Chai

Chico Chai Strong Brew Concentrate is available at these locations.

Product Description:

A strong, spicy brew, ready to be mixed with milk and heated or poured over ice, for a lovely “chai latte”. Chico Chai is brewed by hand, from whole, organic ingredients, and is less sweet than mainstream chai. Each batch is made without preservatives, it’s simply brewed and refrigerated for a unique, fresh flavor.

Taster’s Review:

It would seem that lately, I’m on a bit of a chai kick.  What can I say?  At the first signs of autumn, I’m all about the chai!  Now, I’ll happily consume a chai latte any time of year, but, there’s just something that is so rewarding about sipping a chai – whether it be a latte or drinking it non-latte with just a dollop of honey to bring out those spices.  Nothing tastes more like autumn to me than a good cup of chai!

Right now, I’m enjoying this Chico Chai Strong Brew Chai Concentrate from Chico Chai as a blended ice drink.  I measured out a combination of ice cubes and milk into the blender, and then added the same amount (OK … I admit it, I eyeballed it!) of the strong brew concentrate into the blender and blended it until it was smooth.

Side note:  My husband would like me to add that the blender is loud.  Ha!  When I operated the blender, he thought I was making a chocolate milkshake, and when I told him what it was and that I’d be writing a review, he asked me what I thought of my iced chai drink and I told him “It’s YUMMY!” and he says, there you go.  That’s your review.  Tell them that it’s yummy and your blender is loud.

I am really enjoying this blended drink.  It is cool and frosty and refreshing – but with just enough spice to get my taste buds all warmed up and tingling!  This is sweet – but not too sweet.  (I didn’t add any additional sweeteners to this blended drink.  It is just ice cubes, milk, and the strong brew concentrate.)  I get a good amount of peppery taste from the ginger … ginger is the note that stands out strongest to me.

The peppery quality of the ginger is accentuated with black pepper, and as I continue to drink this icy beverage, I notice the pepper more and more.   I also taste the rich black tea in the background.  It’s a malty black tea – but in this concentrate, I notice no signs of bitterness.  Just a good, strong black tea flavor.

I taste hints of nutmeg.  Ohhh I like the nutmeg!  There are notes of cinnamon, anise, clove and cardamom.  It’s a warm and comforting combination of spices … and it’s spicy, but it’s not a spicy-hot kind of spicy.  It’s more of a comforting warmth that I’d liken to curling up with a good book in front of a crackling fire … that warm, cozy feeling with just enough heat to keep the taste buds dancing.

As delicious as my blended ice beverage was … serving this hot with a 1:1 ratio with milk is even better!  I actually used a combination of half 1% milk and half half & half (did that make sense?  ha!  that is to say that my milk was one part 1% milk and one part half & half!) because I don’t really care for 1% milk but my hubby prefers it.  So, I usually doctor up the 1% with some half & half to give me that creamy taste that I miss with the 1% on its own.

Once I measured out the milk, I brought it to a steamy heat and then frothed it a little bit with my hand held frother.  Then I added the strong brew chai concentrate and heated it up a little bit (Since this product is stored in the fridge and I wanted a hot latte) and frothed it a little more.  The result is a creamy, frothy, deliciously decadent treat that is better than what I’ve ever had from any coffee house!

This is spicy and sweet … but not too sweet.  Of all the sweetened chai concentrates that I’ve tasted, this is definitely one of the best ones (if not THE best) that I’ve tried because it isn’t overly sweet.  This is JUST the way I like it.  Sweet but not cloying.  Spicy but my mouth isn’t on fire.  The spices here are balanced in such a way that I can enjoy all the little nuances of the different spices as well as the black tea … and none of these are overwhelmed by the milk.

This is pure chai JOY!  I’m absolutely loving this stuff!

Strong Earl Grey Tea from Shanti Tea


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Shanti Tea

Tea Description:

Using a GBOP grade of black tea for this earl grey, and blending it with extra bergamot essence makes creates an infusion especially well suited for london fogs or for those seeking a strong bergamot flavor in their tea. Much stronger than the classic, malty notes, and a lively cup. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

If you’ve been reading my tea reviews for any length of time, you are probably well aware of my love for Earl Grey.  I am WILD about Earl Grey as well as the many variations on this classic favorite, so, when I learned about this Strong Earl Grey Tea from Shanti Tea, you know I had to try it!

And I’m SO happy to be tasting this amazing Earl Grey.  I have my favorite Earl Grey teas – and after having recently learned that one of my very favorites is no longer available – I think I may have just found one to replace that one.  This is a remarkable Earl Grey tea!

The bergamot is indeed strong – this tea is very appropriately named!  It tastes tart with a really delightful citrus tang to it, but, I’m happy to report that it doesn’t taste like perfume.  There is a really skillful balance here.  It offers a strong bergamot essence without tasting like the perfume-ish elements of bergamot.   I taste the citrus here, not so much the flowery taste of the bergamot.

The black tea is rich and slightly malty, and offers a very pleasing backdrop for the bergamot.  I think … if I were to change anything at all about this tea, it would be that I would like a slightly richer black tea base to support the bergamot – something more “filling” like perhaps a Fujian black.  But, aside from that, I’m finding myself very pleased with what I’m tasting here.

This is a really REALLY good Earl Grey – if you’re a fan of Earl Grey like I am, I highly recommend trying this one.

Bailin Gongfu Black Tea from Teavivre

Bailin Gongfu Black from Teavivre
Bailin Gongfu Black from Teavivre

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Teavivre

Tea Description:

Bailin Gongfu is the highest quality Fujian black tea.  This Bailin Gonfu is a premium quality tea produced at Mt. Taimu in Fujian, and is crafted from Fuding DaBai and Da Hao trees.  This delicious tea has a great refreshing sweet taste and fragrance.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Bailin Gongfu Black Tea from Teavivre is one of my black tea staples. I always have plenty of this on hand. Sure I enjoy other black teas, and have plenty of them for variety, but this black tea, this is my “go to” tea in the morning. It is always spot on for the flavors I crave to wake up to.

Some mornings I have more time to get motivated, and I may go for something different in a black tea but in most cases, I just need what I know will really do the trick.

Bailin Gongfu Black Tea from Teavivre has every element in a black tea that I would want. Malty notes, hints of a cocoa flavor, caramel notes, depth, and complexity, robust, and strong without any bitterness or astringency.

This is one of Teavivre’s most popular teas. There is good reason for this! This tea is warm and toasty with a taste reminiscent of boutique beer, malty and chocolatey. This is THE black tea that made me realize not all black teas are created equal. Sipping this outstanding tea is like sitting back at a campfire with a good friend. It just makes you feel comfy! The flavors are simply decadent yet is so easy to sip with a bright cheery feel!

What is really interesting about this black tea is that within all these flavors, on the after taste, is this wonderful vegetal note! It may not be really noticeable to everyone, but I get a green bean note in the lingering of the after taste that is quite surprising! A black tea with a green bean note? Yes, its in here! Add to that a full, creamy mouthfeel, what more could one ask for in their morning wake up tea?

Perhaps this tea sounds confusing to some, cheery and bright, yet also robust and full? Creamy cocoa, caramel, malty notes with vegetal? Well what we can’t disagree on is that it is interesting! To add to that all of these notes are present in one steeping, and hold up through a second steep. After that you will enjoy several more infusions of the same leaf but the layers begin to slowly ween themselves out leaving behind a lovely black with more attention on the caramel, cocoa, and base tea notes which are equally lovely.

I think, but please don’t hold me to any decisions on this, if I could only have one black unadulterated (unflavored / flavored by nature only) tea for the rest of my life, this would be the one. Granted I would never, ever, want that to happen!