Posts Tagged ‘Tea Leaves’
Tea Company: Hampstead Tea (website)
Ingredients: Fairtrade black tea, natural oil of bergamot
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use one sachet or level teaspoon of tea leaves per person. Brew with freshly boiled water and infuse for up to three minutes
This tea has possibly one of the most well-described packages I have ever seen. The single teabag package reads: “Hamstead Tea, London. Organic Fairtrade Earl Grey with aromatic bergamot. 1 staple-free teabag.”
Wow, that is quite a mouthful. I personally do not know anyone who buys teabags who is also concerned about saving some metal, but by the look of the string attached to the teabag, it makes me wonder why more teabag-producers do not follow this. It seems that Hamstead has implemented an easy way to do away with stables entirely. But how about the tea itself?!
The packaging recommends 3-5 minutes for steeping. The last earl grey that I tried oversteeped even with low steep times, so I boil some water and decide to go for the lower end here with 3 minutes of infusion. While I will admit that I am not big on bagged tea, this tea smells quite good, dry in the bag. A hint of orange provides a nice aroma. The steeping tea gives off a pleasant bergamot aroma. The first sip confirms that 3 minutes was a perfect amount of steeping, unless you prefer your tea stronger. For a bagged tea, this is pretty smooth, but it lacks a bit in the flavor profile. This is definitely a quality bagged tea. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would give it a 65/100.
You can purchase the Biodynamic, Organic and Fairtrade Earl Grey directly from the Hampstead Tea website.
Tea Company: Shepherd (website)
Ingredients: Organic white tea, organic strawberry leaf, organic licorice, organic peach flavor
Vendor Suggested Preparation: near boiling water, 4-5 minutes
For a bagged tea purveyed by a modestly small little-known operation in Montana, this is pretty tasty stuff! The sellers, www.theshepherdsgarden.com, have a limited number of bagged tea varieties, with more evidently to come, and a line of mugs, accessories, warmers, and other giftware that leans toward the froofy and flowery.
This tea is neither froofy nor flowery, but fruity, and in a very pleasant way. The white tea leaves are torn and tiny, typical for a bagged tea. However, they steep into a nice base for the flavoring, even after 4-5 minutes–a bit on the longish side for white teas. No bitterness. A finished cup yields an attractive, clear gold liquid. The peach flavor tastes natural and not chemical. The strawberry leaf is detectible and a nice complement. Best of all, the licorice is not cloyingly annoying.
If you examined the means and motives of most tea drinkers, the ritual is as important as the recipe. Tea, steeped well and appreciated properly, takes time and patience to prepare and enjoy. And the good folks at Shepherd’s Tea have added a lovely packaging tweak to pass that time peacefully–a carefully chosen Scripture verse (King James for Elizabethan flavor) to refresh your weary spirit while you wait. The cup I prepared for this review reinforces the value of biding one’s time: But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:4).
You can purchase the Organic Peach White Tea directly from the Shepherd website.
Tea Company: Shang Tea (website)
Ingredients: Winter Dew White Tea with fragrant orange petals and zest
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Brew with 195-205 degree F water Use 1 heaping tablespoon (3-4g) per cup of water For the first steeping, try brewing only 30 seconds to 1 min This high quality tea can be steeped 3-4 times
The first time I tried this tea, I thought it tasted like floor cleaner. Unfortunately, this result was a direct result of my own hubris. I’d been researching and learning about tea for a year. And everything I’d read about white tea dictated a very low steeping temperature, and a brew time around 3 minutes. But this package said hot water, just cooled from boiling, and a very very short steep time. And this wasn’t too long after I had a horrible experience with another tea where I’d followed the directions on the package and gotten something that could strip paint (http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1370/tea-review-samovar-tea-lounge-royal-garland/). So I decided I knew better. I brewed low and slow.
And it tasted like floor cleaner. Blea.
I whined about it on Steepster, especially since I’d just tried their Tangerine Red, which is like manna from heaven. And someone told me to try it again, but follow the instructions. I ignored it, thinking I could be very happy without this tea.
Then, I went to their brick and mortar storefront. They explained a lot of their processes to me, and gave me samples of almost every tea they carry. This one included. Wow! What a difference following the instructions made! This was a really interesting, really good tea.
This tea is a big tea. The white tea leaves are big. The pieces of orange blossom are big. And the taste is big. It’s not a sweet taste. It’s on the bitter side. The orange blossom petals remind me slightly of the pith of the orange. (It’s supposedly got lots of vitamin C as well.) It’s an acquired taste, but I like it a lot. I don’t get a lot of the hay or grass tones on this one, just the orange peel and a mellowness imparted by the white tea. The astringency is very low, but it does leave just a hint of pucker after the initial flavors, the kind that leaves you wanting to drink more. And with the short steeps recommended, you can get quite a few cups out of this tea!
Try this tea if you want something original and bold but make sure you follow the directions on the packet!
You can purchase the Orange Blossom White directly from the Shang Tea website.
Tea Company: Blue Q (website)
Vendor Suggested Preparation: na
When this tumbler first arrived, I was a bit surprised at how small it was. With the double-walled design, intended to keep your tea hot as long as possible, the interior volume is quite smaller than it appears. After several weeks of use, I have determined that there are three primary ways in which this tumbler can be utilised.
First, the strainer can be removed from the mouth of the container, the tea bag or leaves put inside, water poured into the tumbler, and the strainer replaced. This allows tea to be steeped indefinitely, and tea to be sipped while the leaves are still inside the tumbler. This works well if you are drinking a tea that is unaffected by long or indefinite steep times.
Second, the tumbler can be used as an on-the-go container for prepared tea. Simply remove the strainer and leave it at home, and the tumbler could be used for keeping tea, prepared in a pot or other vessel, hot on the way to another location.
Third, in the case of a lack of another brewing vessel, this tumbler can serve for that job too. Remove the strainer, put in the tea, put in the hot water, replace the strainer, wait for steeping to finish, and then simply pour from the tumbler into cups for serving.
My experience with these three methods was varied. With the first method, I found that, because the leaves or bag float loose inside the container and are not held back from the strainer, they would often float forward with the steeped tea and block/clog the strainer while I tried to drink. The second method worked out fairly well. My only complaint was that it seemed as though the tea still cooled off a bit fast, despite the double-walled design. But the double-walls did insulate one’s hand from the heat of the contents. In the third case, this worked only slightly better than the first method, running into the same issues, yet being a little more controlled for pouring, as I was attempting to pour into a mug that I could see rather than my mouth.
Overall, while I appreciate the design of this tumbler, I am not sure that the functionality is quite at the best point yet to make it worth a purchase. For overall usability, I would rate it a 6.5/10.
You can purchase the Tea Tumbler with Stainless Steel Tea Strainer directly from the Blue Q website.
Tea Company: Canton Tea Co. (website)
Ingredients: white tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use 1-2 tsp per cup (200ml); water temperature around 75°C (167°F) and infuse for 2-3 mins; and infuse 2-3 times
The aromas of this white tea’s dry leaves are quite sweet and grassy. Fuzzy, short, white twists intermix with small green leaves for an enjoyable looking tea. Canton Tea Co’s packaging suggests using 2 teaspoons of leaf per cup of water and infusing the tea for 2-3 minutes. Accordingly, 2 teaspoons of the tiny leaves went into my cup for a little over 2 minutes. The resulting aroma of this tea was somewhat different than the dry leaves suggested.
My cup of tea still maintained its grassy aromas, yet felt deeper and stronger with a light, roasted smell. I was further surprised when, upon tasting it for the first time, the flavour burst in my mouth, both sweet and fruity and without a lot of the formerly smelled grassiness. Impressed by the full flavour, I continue drinking.
This is one complex white tea…the flavour is not, in any way, straightforward. Slightly reminiscent of half a dozen different white teas, this is a must-try for white tea lovers. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would give it a 91/100.
You can purchase the Ye Sheng Wild White Tea directly from the Canton Tea Co. website.