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Tea Company

H’mong Kings Tea from Rakkasan. . . .

Generally when you think of green tea you think of Japan or China first. What about Vietnam? Wasn’t on my radar until I spotted this one. This rare wild grown tea is a true splendor to behold. The dry leaves have an incredibly unique aroma. This scent is what I think of when I think umami. It’s almost like they cooked something on the pan before they roasted it. Somewhat vegetal but nothing like the usual vegetal flavors found in tea. SMOKY! Smoky vegetal! But not like Lapsang Souchong. The wet leaves smell like passion fruit. NO I am NOT joking. They don’t taste like it though… Don’t taste the leaves. And the liquid? Awesome. Grassy sweet with just a very slight amount of bitterness. I need more.

More in my cup. The leaves slowly un-twisting in my cup are lovely. The Agony of the leaves. It is interesting how pan firing a tea can give it such a different flavor profile.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Rakkasan

This is a rare wild-grown, green tea produced by Black H’mong families in Hà Giang Province, Vietnam at over 5,200 feet. It is different from other green teas in that it is fired and dried by hand in a wood-fired cast iron pan rather than a drum oven. It has a smoky aroma and earthy and woody notes reminiscent of the surrounding pine forest where it grows. Like other wild green teas, it is naturally sweet with little bitterness.


Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Earl (Not So) Grey from Banff Tea Company. . . . .

Earl (Not So) Grey from Banff Tea Company is how I recently started my day and let’s just saw it was a GOOD start to the day!

When I saw the part of the name “Not So” I knew there HAD to be a twist to this tea. The twist was the additional of Lavender. According to the company website, “The forgotten, neglected Earl in the kingdom of RoyalTEA.” This tea is an inspired blend of Earl Grey and Lavender with a fairly high level of caffeine and the black tea they used hails from Sri Lanka.

Additional ingredients include Lavender, cornflower petals, and natural flavors. Their Steeping Suggestions were to use one teaspoon (3g) of tea per 6oz cup of water. Steep at 100°C (212°F) for 3-4 minutes.

But many of you know I’m a rebel and like my black teas super strong so I tend to infuse more of the loose leaf for a tad less time. Instead, I did a heaping tablespoon for about 2 to 3 minutes or so. This was a hefty cuppa and I HIGHLY recommend it to those you enjoy creative Earl’s!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: Banff Tea Company

The forgotten, neglected Earl in the kingdom of Royal TEA. An inspired blend of Earl Grey and Lavender.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Manistee Moonrise Black Tea from Whispering Pines Tea Company


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea Company

Tea Description:

The Manistee river is a river running 190 miles through the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. This beautifully peaceful river is home to very abundant wildlife and is a sanctuary for an endangered bird, the Kirtlands Warbler. A river fringed with flora and fauna — not much can give a person a deeper feeling of freedom.

Manistee Moonrise Spirit Blend weaves a wild bramble of blackberries through a pine-fringed river scattered with fresh spring grasses with wildlife in the air and water. You can taste the juicy berries and catch a hint of a campfire upstream. This blend is the essence of freedom.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I am really impressed with this Manistee Moonrise Black Tea blend from Whispering Pines Tea.  I really didn’t expect to have a camping trip in a teacup when I brewed this tea today, but, that’s exactly what I have!

As some of you are probably well aware, I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to smoky teas.  I have finally come around to Lapsang Souchong … but, I won’t even consider trying it without a quick preliminary rinsing of the leaves … and it took me a long time to get to that point.

So when I read on Steepster that this tea is smoky, I did a quick rinse before infusing.  And while this IS a smoky tea … there is just so much more going on with it.  The smoke is subdued,  It sort of weaves its way throughout the sip, but, it never overwhelms the palate.  That is to say, it’s always there … but it’s not assertively THERE.

The berry flavor is prominent, and it is delightful.  There are notes of lemon that brighten the cup – tasting tangy but not overly tart.  There is a crisp hint of mint … not a strong note, but something that sort of sits off in the background … like the crisp mountain air where mint grows.  You can sort of taste it in the air, but it is not an aggressive taste.  And then there is the pine.  It has a sort of resinous flavor, again, like the flavor of the mountain air while out on a hike.

And as I stated, this tea truly tastes like a camping trip in the woods, a lovely log cabin, the fireplace roaring with a fire, and the taste of berries found while hiking and the air that one would inhale during that hike.  Such a lovely translation of flavors … such an inspiring tea!

Oriental Beauty from Zi Chun Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Zi Chun Tea Co.

Tea Description:

This exotic “Champagne of Tea” is probably the most fascinating of all the oolong teas. Its rich taste & sweet, smooth honey aroma gives it a unique flavor, not unlike a fine mellow, black tea.Its processing is characterized by heavy oxidation (60% to 70%) and heavy withering (13% to 25%). The oxidation process is initiated before the leaves are plucked by nature’s assistance in the form of small insects biting the tender leaves. See this article in T Ching for more information on this amazing tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m really enjoying this Oriental Beauty from Zi Chun Tea Company.  Of course, that comes as no surprise to me, because I love Oriental Beauty Oolong teas!

What never ceases to amaze me though, is just how amazing the flavor is of an Oriental Beauty.  It’s so different from other Oolong teas.  It has a bright fruit taste, rather than a floral one (although there are some floral tones), and this particular Oriental Beauty offers not just a sweet fruit note, but also a compelling and contrasting sour note, providing a very savory tea experience.

I brewed this the way I typically brew an Oolong – in my gaiwan! – using short steeping times.  I start with a quick rinse (10 – 15 seconds), discarding the liquid, and then I steep the first infusion for 45 seconds.  I pour this into my cup, and then I add the water to my gaiwan for the second infusion.  I add 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion, so this second infusion is steeped for a minute.  After a minute has lapsed, I pour the liquid into the same cup as my first infusion, combining the two infusions.  I like to combine the infusions, as it makes for a very satisfying tea flavor.  Each infusion of an Oolong tends to have slightly different qualities, and when I combine the two infusions this way, it provides a rich, lovely flavor.

Subsequent infusions of this Oolong reveal slightly more floral notes, but these are slight.  I find that the fruit tone remains strong here, and by the third and fourth infusions, I start to notice a honey-esque note emerge.  This gets stronger with the third cup (infusions five and six).   By this time, the flavors have become more seamless, and the sour tones have softened significantly.  It is a very soothing tea to drink.

I really enjoyed this Oolong – it truly is a beauty!

Organic Chamomile from Byron Bay Tea Company

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Byron Bay Tea Company

Product Description:

This classic herbal infusion features the subtle, sweet taste and calming properties of Chamomile flowers. Perfect any time of the day.

Taster’s Review:

Honestly, I don’t get real excited over chamomile tea.  In fact, I usually cringe when I receive some.  It isn’t that I dislike chamomile; it’s just that it isn’t my favorite herb to brew.

So needless to say, chamomile is not something that I drink very often.  But sometimes, I really need to relax and unwind, and no other tea or tisane that I’ve tried promotes a sense of calm better than chamomile.

And, the flavor of this chamomile is quite pleasant!  Byron Bay Tea Company does not specify from where they obtain their chamomile, but the blossoms are whole, large, and not at all dusty.  The chamomile smells fresh!  It has a light, clean smell to it that is a little floral and a little fruity.

The flavor is delicate and sweet, with hints of an apple-like taste.  Although it is a flower, chamomile doesn’t really come across as floral in flavor to me, although I do note some pollen-like notes here.  Not a dusty kind of pollen, but more like a sweet, honey-like pollen.

This gentle tisane is just perfect for those times when I need to relax.  It’s an excellent chamomile!