Posts Tagged ‘Tea Taste’
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
Earl Grey tea is one of the most popular and well-known kinds of tea in the Western world. It was named after the second Earl, Charles Grey, of Britain in the 1830s. Charles Grey was the prime minister at the time the act was passed to abolish slavery in the British Empire. This is quite an accomplishment, yet people know him for his tea instead.
Earl Grey is not a type of tea but rather plain black tea infused with the citrus flavour of bergamot. Hampstead’s Earl Grey comes in an attractive but difficult to open white tin canister. The picture on the front is an interesting image of two tea leaves in a brown and yellowish cloud of smoke. I had no problems opening the outside lid, but the inner one could not be pried with my newly-manicured fingernails (and I wasn’t favouring my fingernails). I had to use the end of a fork to pry it open.
The nose on the dry leaf is very lemony, however steeped clear orange infusion emits a surprisingly less citrusy nose as the aromas of the tea part of the beverage is now predominant. I think I had to take a second sip to make sure I was drinking an Earl Grey. That is because with many Earl Grey’s the bergamot flavour stands out and you really taste the lemony citrus note above all other flavours. There is usually a bright, tart, refreshing taste to most Earl Greys. I should note however, that the bergamot is often used to mask a lack of flavour in poor quality black tea. The quality of black tea used in Earl Grey needs to be checked.
The Earl Grey from Hampstead has a more muted bergamot note. The tea taste comes more to the forefront. So for those of you who do not like overpowering bergamot but prefer more subtle citrus flavours, I would recommend this tea to you. Does this mean that Hampstead is using better quality black tea than the other tea companies out there that they do not need to mask the tea flavour with an overpowering bergamot flavour? Perhaps. Their packaging says their tea comes from Makaibari, the first biodynamic tea estate in the world, situated 3-4000 ft high in the Himalayas. The dry leaf looks attractive enough. Short, black, dark brown, some Assam tea some tippiness, a good roll to it. It is a good leaf.
The question then becomes why deviate from the norm? If the majority of the tea companies are supplying the bergamot-favoured tea vs. the tea favoured tea and this is what consumers know is the norm, what they expect, is popular, and are eating them up then why fix something that isn’t broken? I can appreciate it being a better quality tea, but after tasting both “types” of Earl Greys, I gotta say, I like the “bergamot-favoured, plain, low-quality black tea” Earl Grey of the other tea companies, even though the tea is poorer. But then again maybe there is a market for an Earl Grey where the predominant taste is a good tea taste and a more subtle bergamot taste. I certainly prefer many of my flavoured teas to have a tea taste rather than a flavour taste. It’s just with Earl Grey that I prefer the opposite. And that is because I tend to favour lemony tastes. This is the first time I’ve tasted an Earl Grey with a stronger tea than bergamot taste and it is one I will not soon forget. Maybe there is something that can be said about the vantages of combining good quality black tea with bergamot? Hmm.
It is also notable that this tea is certified organic and fairtrade. What does fairtrade mean?
Chances are when you have a cup of tea in the morning, you are not thinking about the working conditions of those involved in getting the tea from the gardens to your cup, yet with the growth of social conscience today, this topic is becoming more and more relevant as can be seen by the growth in interest in the Fair Trade movement. Fair Trade tea has been around since 1994 in Canada and was slow to catch on. Today, its market share remains tiny, making up about one half of one percent of all tea sales in Canada. But it’s growing fast. The range of Fair Trade teas available is wider than ever.
How does Fair Trade work? TransFair, the certifying body, has a rigorous audit system which verifies industry compliance with Fair Trade criteria and allows companies to display the FTC label on products that meet these standards. TransFair belongs to Fair Trade Labeling Organizations (FLO), an international organization headquartered in Germany. Just as TransFair audits the activities of licensees, FLO manages certified producer cooperatives and importers. The work of TransFair and FLO complement each other so that the chain of commodities is tracked from the farm to the finished product, making sure that the Fair Trade criteria has been met. A Joint Body – a special council on the estate made up of workers and estate managers – is created. The Joint Body decides how the Fair Trade premium paid by licensed importers to the certifying body will benefit the whole community.
Proponents of Fair Trade argue that the FTC system works to improve the quality of life for tea plantation workers, their families, and communities in a number of ways. Fair Trade provides fair, livable wages and premiums, opportunities for social development programs, improved access to higher education, and funds to repair dilapidated housing and facilities. Other concerns that Fair Trade can address include health and safety issues such as water contamination, worker health, unsanitary sewer systems, access to healthcare, and emergency transit. Fair Trade promotes worker empowerment, worker autonomy, and facilitates social and economic mobility for workers and their families.
Today where consumers are looking for social accountability from producers, fairtrade teas are becoming a growing share of the market. This was the first fairtrade tea I’ve reviewed and I’m sure not the last.
You can purchase the Biodynamic, Organic and Fairtrade Earl Grey directly from the Hampstead Tea website.
Tea Company: Tea Forte (website)
Ingredients: Darjeeling Black Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Steep for 3-5 minutes, 208 deg. F
I really feel this is a good go-to black bagged tea and would classify it towards the beginning of the “strong strength” spectrum. I couldn’t really pick out the floral notes comparison mentioned in the product description but it’s pretty tasty regardless! As for the roasted nuts mention – I could taste a hint of that in the very beginning of the sip but it quickly went away into more of a black tea taste.
You can purchase the Estate Darjeeling directly from the Tea Forte website.
Tea Company: Dens Tea (website)
Ingredients: Sencha green tea with pineapple
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Water: 4oz boiled Leaves: 2 grams or 1 heaping teaspoon Steep: 30 sec 2nd Cup: Water boiled; Steep 15 sec
Attention ALL Pineapple Lovers!
Before, During, and After infusing this tea is all about the freshly cut Pineapple Smell…once the infusion was complete add the fresh Pineapple smell to a Green Tea and there you go! It has a typical Sencha type color and the taste is refreshing and creamy, yes, creamy! I was shocked it was creamy…sure it says it’s creamy but I didn’t believe it for myself until I tried it. AND it’s still a Loud Pineapple Scent! The Green Tea Taste is still true as well but you really have to enjoy Pineapple to like this tea…lucky for me…I LOVE Pineapple!!
You can purchase the Pineapple Sencha directly from the Den website.
Tea Company: Golden Moon Tea (website)
Ingredients: Black Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Brew 1 tsp of leaves per cup in boiling water 3-5 minutes.
For Sinharaja we use rich, dark loose leaf tea leaves that are nourished by fertile rain forest streams in the hills of Ceylon. …from the Golden Moon website.
This dark loose leaf tea has become my favorite tea. I drink it morning, noon and night. What makes it different from all the other teas that I have had the privilege of tasting? Sinharaja tastes like tea. The way tea should taste, not with a bunch of other flavors crowding out the tea taste. It is not bitter nor is it mouth puckering. According to the Golden Moon, you cannot over brew this tea. I have not personally tested this because when I make a pot of this tea, it is gone in a matter of minutes.
Brewing directions from the Golden Moon:
Brew 1 tsp of leaves per cup in boiling water 3-5 minutes. I brew this tea for 3 minutes. This tea stands up well to milk and sugar.
If you are looking for a good basic black tea, Sinharaja may be the answer.
You can purchase the Sinharaja directly from the Golden Moon Tea website.
Tea Company: California Tea House (website)
Ingredients: Indian Assam and fine Chinese green teas tossed with shredded coconut, lime juice and sunflower petals.
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use 1 to 2 heaping teaspoons per cup of just below boiling (steaming) filtered water and steep for 2 to 3 minutes.
These leaves are beautiful. I was surprised at how large the coconut shavings were. These were no ordinary shavings used in baking coconut, no not in this tea! This tea brewed up a beautiful lemon lime green. The aroma is very coconutty with a bit of citrus sneaking in as well. It reminds me of Harney and Sons Bangkok Green tea (minus the ginger). There is almost a buttery note to the scent as well.
As far as the taste goes, it is a lightly flavored, buttery green tea. I taste the bright, citrusy lime in the forefront, then the buttery green base with a hint of coconut at the end. The coconut is very strong in scent and as I sip it I get more from the scent of the coconut than the taste of the coconut. Does coconut make the tea taste buttery and smooth, or is that the actual tea itself? This texture I’m tasting was similar in the Harney and Sons tea mentioned above, which also had coconut in it. I do like how smooth this blend is. Nothing stands out too sharply. I really enjoy the lime flavor in this tea. It doesn’t overpower the green tea, but blends with it rather nicely. I’m glad to have enjoyed a mug full of this.
You can purchase the Lime in the Coconut directly from the California Tea House website.