Thursday, February 28, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Price: $13.50/100 grams
What They Say: Honey Bush tisane combined with a great vanilla twist. Have hot or chilled.
Review: Finally! After a very long while of wondering about both Honey Bush tea and the T2 tea company, I found both. Honey Bush was described to me as being like "a sister of Rooibos", having similar health benefits, yet having the colour and flavour of honey. I picked up a sample of their "Honey Vanilla" blend, very anxious to try it out. The results were... unique. This was not a bad tea, it was just not my particular favourite kind of drink. The taste was very much that of a tisane and, much to my surprise, not at all like it's earthier sister; Rooibos. To put this in perspective; I would have believed that this tea was an herbal mix of flowers if I was told. The vanilla and natural honey flavour of the leaf were in very equal balance, despite the colour (which was overwhelmingly honey-like) and the scent (which was overwhelmingly vanilla based). The liquid itself was very light and easy on the palate. To say that the flavour was subtle gives the wrong indication, yet the flavour certainly didn't hit me right away. Sugar wise, I didn't think I would need any, but later found out that I most enjoyed this tea with the same amount of sugar that I did a green or oolong tea. I think that this tea would be best suited as a pre-bed tea. Aside from it's total lack of caffine, it's has a very dreamy/sleepy quality which is quite hard to describe. I am very interested in simply trying out the basic, unblended Honey Bush, so as to compare to this. I remember trying Vanilla Rooibos and find it putrid compared to natural Rooibos back in the days of bagged tea. I would reccomend this "Honey Vanilla" blend of Honey Bush to, oddly enough, anyone who enjoys honey or vanilla as those truly are the only flavours present in this tea.
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."- Henry James, OM (Author)
Monday, February 11, 2008
Form: Loose Leaf
Review: This tea has created a huge problem for me; first things first; I love it. It's the nicest earl grey I've ever tasted. However, it was a gift to my partner at her shop. The tin says it's Godiva Earl Grey, yet I can find no trace of Godiva tea on the internet. Even their official site does not mention any kind of tea for sale. As such, I know that each infusion is precious as no Earl Grey has ever been so delicious for me. The leaves themselves are the largest black leaves I've ever seen. The bergamot, at first, seems to be subtle, but when I'm done sipping from my cup all I can taste is a delcious present of slightly citrusy bergamot. The tea itself, bergamot oil aside, is so delicious. I cannot tell what it is, but I strongly suspect Ceylon or possibly Assam. Regardless, it's one of the nicest black teas I've ever had and would love to try it without the oil as well. However, I am not complaining as the bergamot oil is just perfect. Again, I stress that this is a more subtle blend of bergamot oil: tea ratio, but the result is a truly sublime cup of tea. I cannot say how much this tea costs nor can I suggest you go out and buy yourself some, as it seems the tea does not exist (according to the internet). All I offer is a plea, if anyone knows where I could find some of this tea (or know of a similar, delicious and slightly subtle Earl Grey blend), could they please comment and let me know; I would be very grateful.
"The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort and refinement."- Arthur Gray, writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
1- Tea from any region can be delicious or mediocre. Chinese tea is a favourite of mine and I feel somwaht insulted when Orwell claims that I would not feel wiser, more optimistic or braver after having a pot of keemin tea.
2- This is fact, not oppinion. Huge quantities of tea are seldom as nice as a smaller amount. Even larger amounts of tea are fine, but the huge amounts Orwell talks about would most certainly be mediocre at best.
3- Teapots should always be warmed as it keeps the tea hotter for longer, yet I believe the best method is to fill with hot water until it overflows. Not all teapots are good to place on the 'hob', or stove top.
4- Interesting fact about the elderly prefering stronger tea, but I totally disagree with this point. Yes, tea should be strong, but not to the point wherein it is oversteeped. 6 heaped teaspoons for a quart (a litre/4 cups approx) teapot? Please, that would result is a tea which is too strong and, likely, too bitter.
5- Spot on. It is often easier to simply use a strainger or bag for the tea leaves, but they will not hav a chance to open up fully and, as such, infuse correctly, if they are not given the entire pot to lie in.
6- For black tea, which we can only assume Orwell is talking about, temperature of water should be between 90-100 degress Celcius. It needn't be straight off the stove.
7- I have never considered this to be important. I always leave my leaves to infuse on their own but make sure to give the water in the pot a bit of an aggitation in order to make sure the flavour is evenly distributed.
8- What a point of contension! Many tea drinkers, myself included, prefer the smaller style of tea cup for several reasons. Aside from the aesthetic pleasures the small cup offers, it's minimal amoun of tea means that it will (likely) be hot from when one has the first sip to when one has the final sip while the tea in the pot stays at it's brewed temperature. Compared to the tall, English style of the tea cup which starts off hot and, by last sip, is somewhat cooler.
9- Milk has never been a major part of tea for me, spiced teas aside. However, when I do use milk in tea, I have never experienced this sickly taste he speaks of. However, such a taste may be due to the huge amount of tea and it's no doubt oversteeped flavour.
10- I find it amusing that the notion of not putting milk into tea is simply not mentioned, it's so very delightfuly British. However, when I do put milk into tea, I follow the exact line of reasoning Orwell does. Tea first, then milk.
11- Sugar kills the taste you claim Mr. Orwell? Tea is supposes to be bitter eh? Well, perhaps if you didn't use a comedically large amount of tea leaves your tea would be steeped correctly and, as such, not bitter. Sugar may alter the taste of tea, yet I prefer this alteration and there should be no denying that a small amount of sugar leaves the tea in a much more natural state than a large amount of milk.
Each person surely has their own preferred method of tea consumption and it is none of my business if I don't agree with their methods, this was more a case of me spouting my own views about tea preperation. The point is, let no one tell you that you're "doing it wrong". If the final product is what you enjoy the most, then you're doing it right.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
Form: Loose Leaf
Company: The Tea Centre
Review: Anybody who knows of my tea drinking habits will be well aware my love for chai and chai related tea (such as the exquisite Christmas tea) so some time ago when visiting the Tea Centre of Sydney and noticing this flavoured black tea, I knew I had to try it. Glögg tea, derived from mulled wine or 'Glögg Wine', is a black tea with pieces of cinnamon, orange peel, almond, ginger, cloves and cardamon. As I'm sure you can imagine, it is quite similar to a chai in taste and also in it's need for sugar and milk (in my oppinion). Yet without milk, it was far more enjoyable than chai or christmas tea is milkless. The taste itself was like a spicier chai, yet not a chili derived spice. In other words, this was virtually a chai tea, albiet a very delicious one, with a more exotic and fuller flavour. I will certainly need to purchase some for home use in order to re-experience this tea, perhaps with a slither of orange added to the tea as I would be interested in trying a more orange based version of this tea. Infact, if anyone knows of a nice, chai like tea with a strong orange flavour, could they suggest it to me? Thank you.
Any fans of chai or chai related teas (as well as fans of mulled wine) should definately try this tea.
"I am so fond of tea that I could write a whole dissertation on its virtues. It comforts and enlivens without the risks attendant on spirituous liquors. Gentle herb! Let the florid grape yield to thee. Thy soft influence is a more safe inspirer of social joy." -James Boswell, Scotish Lawyer and Author
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Form: Loose Leaf
Company: The Tea Centre
Review: Months ago now, I tried Formosa Oolong in my local tea house and have been looking for another Oolong which equalled (or even surpassed) the beautiful flavour of the original pot. After being recommended some Ti Kuan Yin (Tie Guan Yin if you prefer) at a tea forum, I was on the lookout for this tea. Fortunately some came along quite quickly, at Sydney's Tea Centre of course. I have finally found my home Oolong. Named after the Iron Goddess of Mercy in China, the taste is certainly different to the Formosa Oolong, with this tea having a slightly sweeter natural taste to it. Despite the 'Iron' and 'Goddess' monikers, this tea is not at all overpowering or to dominant, with Ti Kuan Yin Oolong being rather light in both colour and taste. The aroma, and indeed taste, of the tea was slightly floral and overall very pleasant; albeit slightly subdued. The taste will be familiar to anyone who knows Oolong, the fullness of a black tea with the delicate and fresh nature of a premium green tea, this is simply a very high quality Oolong. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Oolong and likewise if anyone is new to Oolong teas, they would do good to start off with this one, due to it's soft and light taste with no bitterness whatsoever. Overall, a terrific tea.
"There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea" -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Writer
Monday, December 3, 2007
Form: Loose Leaf
Company: The Tea Centre
Review: Wow, what a tea. Today, my partner and I went back up to the Tea Centre and purchased some Tu Kuan Yin Chinese Oolong and the subject of this review; South African FireSide Rooibos. The tea contains, naturally, Rooibos (which seemed of very high quality) as well as orange peel, cinnamon and cloves. The resulting brew was truly terrific. From the first sip, I was totally loving this tea. The tea was, overall, very warming and somewhat like chai, yet the flavour of the rooibos added an entirely new dimension. Aside from the rooibos, the most dominant flavour was the citrus from the orange peel, with the cloves and cinnamon creating a third layer of flavour. Since the tea was had in a pot, and due to rooibos' lack of tannin, there was no need to remove the leaves. As such, each sip was of a slightly different flavour; I strongly reccomend this to anyone having this tea, as the cinnamon and cloves becoming stronger as the tea goes on, which is a truly terrific thing. I'm finding it somewhat hard to describe this tea, but believe me, it's utterly delicious. Lovers of Rooibos should try it simply because it's a new way to try an already delicious tea and everyone else should try it because it's simply a delicious drink. To sum up, this is a Rooibos with somewhat chai like properties, yet the orange peel adds a citrus layer to the flavour and everything harmonises beautifuly; a divine drink.
"It has been well said that tea is suggestive of a thousand wants, from which spring the decencies and luxuries of civilization" -Agnes Repplier, US Author and Social Critic
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Note: It is likely needless to say, but just in case you assumed otherwise, this was not a paid message and the Tea Centre have not endorsed anything I've said in anyway
Form: Loose Leaf
Company: The Tea Centre
Review: I first heard of this tea through my partner, who had it years ago, absolutely loved it and couldn't find it again. A few weeks ago, I came across the Tea Centre's website and noticed they had Christmas tea. A trip up to Sydney later, and we came back with 50 grams of this, 50 grams of Blood Orange Black Tea and a nice teapot with 4 matching cups to boot. We were both dying to try this tea to see if it was the same one she had tried those years ago. Turns out that yes, it is. It also turns out that it is one of the nicest teas I have ever tried. The sugar amount is the same as usual, or perhaps slightly more than usual and this tea goes best with a small amount of milk; much akin to Chai in both regards. The tea is a mix of long leaf black tea, almond pieces, orange peel, apple pieces, cornflowers, cinnamon and cloves. With the cinnamon and cloves, the tea has the subtle feel of Chai, yet the other ingedients truly make it a tea of it's own. The flavour can best be described as delicious Christmas pudding with cream, it's utterly divine. The flavour is full, strong and would not at all be overpowered by the addition of food to the experience. I would recommend this tea to anyone who enjoys Chai, Christmas pudding or simply anyone looking to try a new tea. This tea is worth every cent and I will certainly be buying more as soon as this batch runs out, which is likely very soon knowing how nice it is.
"Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company" -Author Unknown
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Form: Stringed Tea Bag
Company: Cha Yuen Co.
Price: $6.50 (50 tea bags) (I paid $2.50)
What They Say: A Distinct and richly unique tea with a strong mesmerizing bouquet and wam, soothing flavour
Review: Ever since I tried, and loved, Oolong tea at the Tea house some weeks ago (see Blog 3), I've been on the look out for a home version. I've found one, yet I'm sure I can find better. Having said that, it's by no means a awful tea, it's actually quite nice when steeped correctly and is great for having after a meal. Yet there is a smoky texture tastable which was not present in the form I had at the tea house. Perhaps that was due to the 'Formosa' style which the previous Oolong was and this wasn't. Perhaps it's just because loose leaf tea is substantially nicer than bagged tea. Or perhaps this is just a mediocre Oolong tea. Whatever the reason, this is certainly not the same tea I had at the Tea Emporium. It is more like a black tea with hints of green, rather than the perfect middle ground that was the Formosa Oolong. I'm being too harsh though, as this is a nice tea with a very full bodied texture. It is rather easy to over-steep and it's very hard to tell by colour or smell if it's ready to drink. When you brew a 'perfect' cup though, it is very very enjoyable. It is certainly a tea to have without food as I've found that any other flavours lingering in one's mouth will destroy the subtle green tea flavours of the tea. Still, this will certainly have to do until I find a better Oolong to have at home.
"Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things." - Chaim Potok (American Author and Rabbi)
Form: Loose Leaf from the local Tea Emporium
Much like Oolong tea, Keemun has been one my 'to try' list for some time now, or rather, it had been on said list for some time. I originally had a pot of it a few weeks ago, yet I had another today and was reminded of it's flavour and thought it best to post a review. This tea is known as 'red tea' in Chine, it's place of origin' and upon pouring, it is clear why. The colour is a more distinct red than rooibos, which comes from the 'red bush' of South Africa. It should be clear to you know that this is a very red tea. It is still technically a 'black tea' in the way it is produced, and it is one of the major components in many English Breakfast and all Russian Caravan teas. Oddly, I have not found it anywhere besides the local tea house, which is a real pity seeing how much I love this tea.
The flavour has been described as smoked, yet I feel this is misleading as the smoked texture of this tea is most definately a minor attribute. More powerful is the delicious fruity aroma and undertones of pine and flowers. The tea is relatively sweet considering its subdued smoky attributes and could be described, albiet awkwardly, as being red wine-like in consistency. As the tea leaves were left in the pot, naturally, the flavour became more pronounced and stronger as the pot went down. This definately worked to it's advantage as the temperature cooling was balanced perfectly with the increase of flavour; as compared to many other teas which end up being too bitter by the end of the pot. Even with no sugar, Keemun is not at all too bitter and one could even stand to use less sugar than usual. However, other sources say that this tea wavers in terms of bitterness and smokiness depending on where it's grown/produced, which makes sense of course. Overall, Keemun tea is a very very nice tea which I've found goes well at anytime of the day and is very versatile with it's sweetness. I've also heard that it makes a terrific iced tea and goes well with milk. I would reccomend this tea to anyone who enjoys English and Irish Breakfast or Russian Caravan tea.
"Where there's tea there's hope" - Arthur W. Pinero, English Dramatist
Company: Vital Organic
Price: $6.48 (50 tea bags)
What They Say: Vital Organic Rooibos Tea is a versatile herbal tea with a satisfying, real tea flavour that you can enjoy any time of the day or night – a cup of natural goodness.
Review: Rooibos is not actually a tea in the sense that it doesn't come from the Camellia Sinensis plant (which is the plant all real tea comes from; black, green, white, oolong). Rather, this tisane/herbal tea comes from the Aspalathus Linearis bush, found exclusively in South Africa. Rooibos (pronounced 'roy-boss', sometimes called 'red bush') has been popular in South Africa for generations, yet only recently has this 'tea' made its way to the west. Whilst originally consumed with milk and sugar in South Africa, the vast majority of western drinkers prefer it without milk; sugar, honey and lemon are popular additives however. As far as herbal teas go, this is as close as one will find to a totally caffeine-less alternative to black tea, as the taste is very earthy. I once thought of the flavor as being the taste equivalent of pouring red dust from the earth from one's hands into the breeze and I still stand by that extravagant assessment. The flavour is a full bodied one; rich but not at all fruity. The beauty of this tea is that it cannot be over steeped; no matter how strong you want the tea and how long you leave the tea bag (or tea leaves) in water, the effect is never detrimental and there is never a trace of bitterness. This tea is perfectly nice with no sugar whatsoever, even after being steeped for longer than usual. Of course, however, I preferred it with my usual one and a half, non-heaped tea spoons of sugar. I've never had this with milk and don't really plan on doing so…yet I've heard that it tastes fine.
The Vital Organic brand of Rooibos is one I've been familiar with for some time now. This is truly my safety tea…I have at least one cup a day and it has never let me down. Having said that, I have tasted nice Rooibos blends, but for the price, this is certainly a wise choice. For the record, the rating system I'm employing from this point on in regard to branded teas is comparative to other blends of similar tea (in this case, this blend of rooibos is 8.5/10…whilst other blends may be closer to 6 or 7). On a similar note, rooibos also makes a delicious iced tea.
"Sail me on a silver sun where I know that I'm free. Show me that I'm everywhere and get me home for tea" – George Harrison (from It's All Too Much by The Beatles)
Oolong is a tea which I have been wanting to try for some time now, being very intrigued since I first read about it being a middle ground between green and black tea. It is semi-fermented, compared to the fermented black and unfermented green teas, and has a very unique aroma and taste. The tea leaves are only harvested in the spring and winter months of Taiwan and China and are totally hand processed, so it is little surprise that this is regarded as a speciality (read: expensive) tea. Needless to say, upon dishing up the slightly raised price, I had high hopes for this tea.
Totally fulfilled. That is how I would describe my hopes for this tea upon first sip. I cannot, in so few words, sum up the taste of this Formosa Oolong tea than to simply say that it is a middle ground between black and green tea. The tea, consistently from start to finish, had the light flavour and delicate texture of a superb green tea whilst also having the robust and full flavour of a high quality blended black tea such as English Breakfast. This may seem to not make sense, and the fact that the Tea is such a weak brownish-green colour would not help, but I stress that this tea is truly terrific. Also, and I digress slightly but I feel it needs to be mentioned, actually watching this tea infuse was a real treat. The small balls of tea in the pot started off quite small (I actually thought my partner and I had been short tea'd), yet as the minutes ticked by, the balls opened up into quite a healthy amount of tea. It was a real tease, watching the balls split and open up into much larger almost flower-like leaves, smelling the unique and almost nutty aroma and being in such anticipation of this tea. As I said before however, this was a delicious tea which truly delivered what I was hoping for and more. I had it with slightly less sugar than I usually would as I found this to draw out the flavour more, yet it was also fine with no sugar. Milk is a big no-no with this tea; treat it like green in that respect. Overall, a really great tea which I have already purchased a second time… I'll be very interested to see if other Oolong blends (and branded, box and bagged varieties) hold the same appeal.
"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you." – William Gladstone, British Prime Minister
Early Grey is a blended black tea, meaning that it is a mixture of various kinds of black teas (which often contain other elements as well). In the case of Earl Grey, it is a blend of Indian black teas, namely Ceylon however. The origin of this tea is in legend and open to debate. They say that an Indian Raja's (aka King's) young son was playing on his own and was forced to retreat up a tree because of a Tiger attack. The Second Earl Grey and British Prime Minister, Charles Grey, apparently saved the boy somehow. The Raja was so thankful he created a tea on the spot, added the much prized Bergamot Orange and named it after the Earl in thanks.
This aside, this is a very easy tea to enjoy at all times of the day. It has a very distinctive aroma and, as such, flavour due to the bergamot orange extract it contains. Surprisingly though, the scent is rather different to the taste, which is light and fruity compared to the almost smokey and slightly fruity flavour it delivers. As anyone who has tasted leaf and bag tea enough will know, loose leaf tea is signifigantly nicer than tea in bags and, as such, this particular Earl Grey (which seemingly is the tea shop's own blend) was particuarly nice. The wonderful scent of the bergamot orange wofting from the teapot promised something good and it delivered. This tea offered the slightest taste of the fruity flavour, not too much and really just enough to please. The smokey flavour, which I am a fan of in most cases, was only slightly present (a feature which my smokey tea disliking partner was pleased with) which gave the ceylon and other black teas enough room to be fully appreciated and meld with the bergamot. A very smooth tea which, I found to be, best enjoyed with a slight dash of sugar to bring out the flavour, yet it is perfectly nice without sugar and also with milk.
"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea" - Sydney Smith, English writer and clergyman