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The Tao of Tea

Nilgiri Blue Black Tea from The Tao of Tea

NilgiriBlueTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

The Nilgiris or Blue Mountains are a range of mountains in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Tea culture is eminent in these serene mountains. Tea is grown at elevations of 1000 to 2500 metres. The landscape is quite unlike the rest of India, marked by rolling hills covered with dense vegetation and tea gardens. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests.

High Elevation
Nilgiri Blue is a high elevation tea (Grown at 6500 feet) in Coonoor, South India. High elevation tea plants grow slower and generally provide lighter, more refined flavors.

100% Organic
The tea garden is recognized as one of India’s premier organic tea estates. Established in 1922, it remains firmly committed to sustainable cultivation methods and conservation of the local ecosystems.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I tried a Nilgiri tea, so I’m hoping this will be a pleasant re-acquaintance. The dry leaf is light and feathery in appearance, and is the reddish brown colour of polished mahogany. The leaves are fairly small – around 0.5cm or smaller for the most part. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown, the scent sweet and a touch woody. I made no additions for my first cup.

Initially, all I could taste was a fairly generic sweet “black” tea. It reminded me of nothing in particular, except perhaps big-brand bagged tea of the kind that’s sold in supermarkets and cafes. It’s sweet, but in a way that’s woodsy rather than malty, and it seems thin tasting and lacking in depth. With successive sips, I can taste a hint of flavours characteristic of Darjeeling – a mild metallic tang, a very light floral. They’re by no means strong or particularly prominent, though. For the most part, this tea is smooth throughout, although it is a little drying in the aftertaste. Not to the extent that I’d call it astringent, because it lacks bite, but heading in that direction.

I wanted more from this one, and I have to confess I’m a little disappointed with how it turned out. I would have liked to have seen stronger flavours, more body; something to provide a little more definition. As it stands, this comes across as a pretty ordinary, standard black tea. It’s easy to drink and pleasant enough, but it’s not got a great deal of character. There’s nothing here that you couldn’t find elsewhere, and for that reason it wouldn’t find a long term place in my cupboard.

Marigold Lemon Tulsi Blend from The Tao of Tea

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Tulsi

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tisane Description:

Tulsi with hints of lemony flavor makes a great combination. We chose 100% organic Australian Lemon Myrtle for the blend because it had the perfect strength to balance the brew. Complemented with the fragrant sweetness of calendula flowers.

Caffeine free.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh, what a pleasant cup.  So gentle and relaxing … perfect for later in the evening (which it happens to be right now), it seems to instill a sense of serenity – I can feel the stress of the day melting away as I sip this.

It has a slight medicinal taste, but I don’t find it to be medicinal in an off-putting way.  I think a better word to describe it would be herbaceous, although there are those who would say that herbaceous and medicinal are quite similar descriptive words.  I don’t think so, though I can see how some might construe them as similar.

The slightly peppery, slightly minty tones of the tulsi meld beautifully with the light citrus-y tones of the lemon myrtle.  I don’t usually notice too much flavor from marigold petals, but because the overall character of this tisane is rather subtle the sweet floral tones do present themselves in the flavor here.

A very enjoyable, naturally caffeine-free cup – perfect for those evenings when you want to unwind.  This tea will calm your spirit and mind, and even help relieve your tension.

Very nice.

Wild Forest Tulsi from The Tao of Tea

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Tulsi

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tisane Description:

Flavor Profile:Very fragrant, notes of kafir limes, orange, mint and cloves.

Ingredients:100% Organic Wild Forest (Vana) Tulsi leaves and stems.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I often find myself at a loss on how to describe an “unflavored” tea or herb, because, even though the natural flavor of the product has not been altered by flavoring, it is often quite flavorful on its own and therefore I don’t feel the word “unflavored” applies.

Unadulterated?  Unaltered?  Untainted?  These words seem to intimate that the act of flavoring tea is somehow wrong, and I don’t agree with that sentiment, as I enjoy many types of tea, both flavored and “unflavored.”

Unmixed?  This almost seems like the reverse sentiment … like tea and herbs should be blended, flavored or mixed, and I don’t agree with that either.

How about Plain?  This seems to imply that the tea or herb is boring.  Plain.  Dull.  And I don’t agree with that either.

So, after what has seemed a long “inner debate” with myself, I think I may have finally settled upon the word PURE to describe an unflavored tea or herb.

And, I think that the word pure is the perfect word to describe this Wild Forest Tulsi from The Tao of Tea.  The aroma of the dry leaf is quite herbaceous, reminiscent of the fragrance of the air one might experience while taking a hike in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.  (We have a lot of mint growing wild up here!)  Once brewed, the tea becomes extraordinarily fragrant.  I noticed a medicinal quality to the aroma as I poured it, reminding me a bit of vapor rub.

And to tell you the truth, that isn’t exactly what I would consider to be a mouth-watering scent.  But, I still managed to get myself to take a sip … and I found myself taking another, and then another.  At first, it seemed to be more curiosity than anything else, but, by the time I made my way to mid-cup, I found myself really enjoying what I was drinking.

The flavor is incredibly complex for an herb:  I taste hints of mint and a warm, spicy note to it (not “spicy hot” really, but more of an exotic spicy note) as well as notes of citrus.  It has a very satisfying savoriness to it; it is very calming and relaxing to sip.

A lovely, pure herb.  I love how it offers a sense of tranquility to me as I wind down this evening.

 

Neela from The Tao of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Product Description:

Delicious green herbal, floral and citrus aromas. Full, smooth taste with a subtle turbinado sweetness.

Taster’s Review:

I had to check out this tea before I brewed it, because the leaves are so large that they almost resemble a dark Oolong.  But these large, twisted leaves are indeed black tea from the Nilgiri Mountains in South India.

Wow!  Just when you think you know what to expect from a tea … I mean, this is a Nilgiri black, but it tastes quite unlike any Nilgiri tea I’ve ever tasted … or any black tea I’ve tasted, for that matter.  This is incredibly smooth and has a lightness to it.  The body and texture remind me a bit of a dark Oolong.  It has that very soft, silken kind of mouthfeel to it.

I don’t know that I would describe this as a full-flavored black tea as mentioned in the above description.  It has a lot of flavor and a complexity to it, but, I don’t know that this is what I think of when I think “full-flavor.”  However, I do agree that there is a turbinado sugar sweetness to this… when I first tasted it (without any sweetener), I thought I might have absent-mindedly added a spoonful of turbinado sugar to the cup.  But I didn’t.  That flavor is a natural characteristic of this tea!  Amazing!

While I really enjoyed this, I would suggest keeping this tea for an afternoon black, rather than something you enjoy earlier in the day when you need a jump start.  I don’t think that this tea really has it in it to deliver a jump start, but, it does deliver a really smooth, calming cuppa.

Kali Cha from The Tao of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Product Description:

Grown at an altitude of 4800 feet and twenty miles from Darjeeling (the famous tea growing region of India), Kali Cha is one of the first authentic style oolongs from India. The region of Kurseong “The Land of White Orchids” has several tea estates known to make light, fragrant black teas.

Taster’s Review:

When I opened the tin, I thought I was about to brew a black tea.  It looks like a black tea.  So, I steeped this the way I would normally steep a black tea:  using my Breville, I steeped it using boiling water at 2 1/2 minutes.  And even though this is, in fact, an Oolong, it is an incredibly forgiving Oolong, as it still withstood the higher temperature and produced a very flavorful cup.

This has many of the same characteristics of a Fujian black tea.  It has that cocoa flavor in the foreground with a deep, caramel-y sweetness in the background.  It is incredibly flavorful and rich.  In fact, had I not looked this tea up on the Tao of Tea website and learned it was an Oolong, I’d probably be writing this review under the guise that I’m sipping a black tea.

Of course, it simply wouldn’t do for me to write a review without brewing this tea properly, so I got out my gaiwan and measured out the leaves, and heated the water to just 190° F.  While it tastes very similar to the first “black tea brewed” cup, I can notice more complexity to this cup and less astringency.  In fact, the sip is incredibly smooth, with very little astringency and a dry, sweet finish.

This cup seems more aromatic than the first.  I can smell as well as taste a wonderful floral note … orchid?  Or perhaps honeysuckle?   I still taste the fabulous cocoa notes with this cup, as well as the caramel sweetness in the background.  The mouthfeel is soft and velvet-y. I managed six extraordinary infusions of this tea using my gaiwan.

I definitely preferred the flavors that brewing in my gaiwan offered, but it is nice to know that this tea is so forgiving that it will let you treat it like a black and it will still offer you a fantastic cup of tea without getting all bitter on you.  This tea is like a good friend – it understands that you can make mistakes … and it stays true to you despite your shortcomings.