Saturday, December 3, 2022

Tea Review: Naturally Grown Kyobancha (Yunomi/Tea Farmer Shinichi Kihara)

Naturally Grown Kyobancha 京番茶
Tea Farmer Shinichi Kihara/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kyoto, Wazuka Village
Product Description:
Unique to the city of Kyoto from which it gets name, Kyobancha is harvested from tea leaves and twigs that have matured over the winter months and then roasted producing a very woodsy flavor.

Often called 'bancha for babies' (akachan bancha 赤ちゃん番茶) because it has almost no caffeine, it is also called 'spring bancha' (haru bancha 春番茶) because it is harvested in March from winter matured leaves. Rarely offered outside of Japan, it is even quite rare to find it in supermarkets in Japan as well.

Shinichi Kihara's Kyobancha gives off a smoky aroma, but surprises you with a flavor that is both smoky as well as sweet.
Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1-2 minutes

The dry leaves have a lightly smoky aroma with notes of roasted nuts and autumn leaves.

The liquor is pale peach yellow and the aroma is sweet and peppery with notes of roasted nuts and a hint of caramelized sugar.  The taste has notes of roasted nuts and a sweet, nutty finish.

I steeped the first two infusions of this tea for 1 minute and the third for 2 minutes with good results throughout.  The second infusion deepened in color and flavor.  This tea was light and refreshing with a flavor and aroma that had me thinking fondly of the roasted chestnut stand opening for the winter season.
  
This tea was purchased by me.




Tea Review: Black Tea Cigar (Kaley Tea)

Black Tea Cigar
Kaley Tea
Type: Black
Origin: Sri Lanka, Kotapola
Product Description:
Tea leaves and buds are crafted together to form a beautifully shaped Black Tea Cigar. The infusion takes you on an aromatic voyage of subtle earthy flavours and floral poetry.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 1 cigar
Steeping Time: 5 minutes

The dry leaf aroma is light with hints of sweet cinnamon and wood. 

The golden liquor has a rich aroma of honey, brown bread, and oats with a hint of apricot.  The taste is rich and thick with honey with no notable astringency.

This tea is very user friendly, offering the best flavor after 5 minutes or longer without developing astringency.  While I initially left the end tied to keep the leaves together which caused them to unfurl like a flowering tea, I found that completely untying them after the initial steeping allowed the flavor to develop more fully. This would be great for work and travel where you want to enjoy a cup of good quality loose leaf tea without the messy cleanup and without the use of a teabag. 

Kaley Tea is located in a forested, lowland region of southern Sri Lanka, adjacent to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a tropical rainforest and UNESCO World Heritage Site. They specialize in organically grown teas plucked from 100-year-old tea trees and hand-processed in limited batches.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.




Friday, December 2, 2022

Tea Review: Fennel Spiced Masala Chai (Vahdam Teas)

Fennel Spiced Masala Chai 
Vahdam Teas
Type: Flavored Black
Origin:  India
Product Description: 
An energetic and lively blend of black tea with gentle sweet fennel and other exotic Indian spices.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 2-5 minutes

The dry leaves are blended with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and fennel.

The dark red liquor has a sweet and spicy aroma with notes of cardamom, cloves, and fennel up front followed closely by black pepper.  The taste is sweet and spicy with moderate astringency and a refreshing spicy finish.

A 2 minute initial steep produced a delightfully spicy broth with moderate astringency.  The natural sweetness of the fennel also seemed to help bring balance to the bold astringency that I would usually expect with a CTC tea.  For the second and third infusions, 4-5 minutes steeping time kept the tea spicy and full-flavored without becoming overwhelmingly astringent.  For those who prefer a stronger brew, 4-5 minutes will do the job nicely.  I thoroughly enjoyed this masala chai blend without the addition of milk or sugar.  

This tea was purchased by me.




Tea Review: Black Tea Pearl (Kaley Tea)

Black Tea Pearl
Kaley Tea
Type: Black
Origin: Sri Lanka, Kotapola
Product Description:
Tea leaves plucked late afternoon are slow withered overnight by rainforest winds and gently handrolled at dawn, on the palms of artisans. A shimmering light golden cup, the fragrance of forest floor and delicate floral and fruity flavours of Oolong, caress the senses.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 4 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf aroma has notes of brown bread, oats, and honey.

The amber infusion has a rich aroma of honey, brown bread, apricot, and a hint of green vine.  The taste is thick with honey notes which carry on into a long finish.

While the first infusion produced no notable astringency, it does begin to develop quickly as the tea leaves unfurl.  Lowering the water temperature and steeping for a shorter time will help to reduce the astringency if that is your preference.  This tea was a delight to drink and left me with a strong craving for honey on freshly baked brown bread.  

Kaley Tea is located in a forested, lowland region of southern Sri Lanka, adjacent to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a tropical rainforest and UNESCO World Heritage Site.  They specialize in organically grown teas plucked from 100-year-old tea trees and hand-processed in limited batches.

My thanks to Kaley Tea for the opportunity to sample their teas.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.




Thursday, December 1, 2022

Tea Review: Winter Cheer (Flying Bird Botanicals)

Winter Cheer
Flying Bird Botanicals
Type: Herbal
Origin: Not provided
Product Description: 
Chocolatey minty spicy goodness to warm your soul. Our Cooperatively grown heirloom cacao nibs and delicious spices combine with refreshing peppermint. Perfect for the Winter season or anytime you'd like to cozy up with a delicious cup.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 2.5 grams
Steeping Time: 7 minutes

The dry leaf blend includes cocoa nibs, peppermint, spearmint, roasted chicory root, carob, ginger, honey bush, rooibos, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, vanilla bean, and stevia.

The copper orange infusion has a sweet aroma of mint, cocoa, cloves, and vanilla.  The taste is lightly sweet and minty, mildly spicy with a hint of cocoa and a long minty finish.

For the purpose of this review, I removed the tea from its compostable teabag.  The subtle aroma of the dry leaf immediately burst into full life with the addition of hot water.  While brewing for 5 minutes produced nice results, brewing for the recommended 7 minutes allowed the spices to fully develop, adding depth of flavor without becoming overwhelmingly bold.  The fullest flavor was in the first two infusions while subsequent infusions were mellow and minty.  As the name suggests, the pleasant flavor and aroma of this herbal blend evokes quiet, relaxing winter evenings.

This tea was purchased by me.





Friday, October 7, 2022

Tea Review: Black Tea (New Tea Era)

Black Tea
New Era Tea
Type: Black
Origin: China
Product Description:
Hearty and flavorful, this tea brews a complex flavor, crisp finish and brews a deep traditional red tea hue. This tea is harvested from a white tea varietal, which offers a smooth finish to a fermented tea.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf aroma is savory with notes of fragrant wood and hints of flowers and smoke.

The deep red infusion has an aroma of baked squash, stone fruit, vine, and brown sugar.  The taste is mildy astringent, fruity, and dry with a long fruity finish.

This tea was included as a sample with a teaware order and they didn't include information beyond the tea type and business name.  While the first two infusion had the fullest flavor, the third infusion was still enjoyable.  I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful this tea was even though the sample was well over a year old. 

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.




Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Tea Review: Dancong Black Tea (Serene Tea)

Dancong Black Tea 单丛红茶
Serene Tea
Type: Black
Origin: China, Guangdong Province, Guangzhou, Phoenix Mountain
Product Description:
It comes from Phoenix Dan Cong tea trees, but processed as a black tea instead of a Dan Cong oolong tea. Originally such tea was created for experimental purpose, but tea drinkers in China adored its rich sweet flavor of fruitiness and hence, plus it also makes an excellent cold brew, so nowadays it has become a perfect daily go to tea and an all season suitable tea. 

Cultivated in mineral rich soil, this tea thrives in the coastal environment in Canton province on Phoenix Mountain. Both wild and farmed, these tea trees can reach the ripe old age of 200 years.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of flowers, aged wood, nut shells, and oats.

The copper red infusion is floral and savory with light notes of brown bread and baked fruit.  The taste is floral, sweet, and fruity with a fruity and floral finish.

Slightly lowering the water temperature after the first infusion will have good results.  I especially enjoyed how the floral and fruit notes smoothed out and berry notes developed in the second infusion .  The third steeping was mellower, while still being enjoyable.

This tea was purchased by me.




Monday, October 3, 2022

Tea Review: Silver Piece Pu Erh Tea (Serene Tea)

Silver Piece Pu Erh Tea
Serene Tea
Type: Puerh
Origin: China, Yunnan Province, Xishuangbanna
Product Description: 
It’s known as Sui Yin Zi in Chinese, which means ‘Silver Pieces’ as ancient Chinese coin. It’s a high quality Shu Pu Erh that also known as ‘fossil tea’ thanks to its appearance and the 10+ brewing. It’s also the essence part of ‘Lao Cha Tou’, which is the best aged Shu Pu Erh. Shu Pu Erh tea has to go through a microbial fermentation process after they have been dried and rolled, which allows beneficial bacteria and fungal bacteria to develop, resulting in the tea's health benefits of probiotic. It also allows the teas to improve with age like a fine wine as time goes by. Unlike most Pu Erh teas that the tea leaves unroll or expand as the steeping goes on, Silver Pieces stay the same shape through brewing.

Pu Er is also known for helping with digestive function making this is a perfect combination both for its health benefit and rich organic taste.
Temperature: 205° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of leather, wood, and moss.

The copper red infusion has an aroma of leather, kiln-dried wood, and underlying spice.  The taste is rich and savory with notes of cooked rice, a hint of sweetness following each sip, and a sticky rice-like finish.

The taste reminded me distinctly of sticky rice and the color deepened following the first steeping.  To get the most out of this tea, add more time with each subsequent steeping.

This tea was purchased by me.




Friday, September 30, 2022

Tea Review: Blue Detox (Serene Tea)

Blue Detox
Serene Tea
Type: Tisane
Origin: Not Provided
Product Description:  Not provided.

Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf blend includes lemongrass and butterfly pea flowers.

The liquor is deep cobalt blue with the tart aroma of lemongrass.  The taste is lightly tart with distinct notes of lemongrass all the way through to the long finish.

The full flavor was in the first two infusions  with mild mellowing of flavor by the third.  This was a particularly nice tasting experience as I really enjoy lemongrass in food and drink.  The pretty color of the liquor was a nice bonus.

At the time of this review, Blue Detox was not available.  Check Serene Tea's official website for updates.

This tea was purchased by me.




Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Tea Review: White, Green, and Black Tea (Minto Island Tea Company)

During the 2021 Open House at Minto Island Tea Company, I had the opportunity to pick up a variety box of their Spring Flush teas.


White Tea
Type: White
Origin: USA, Oregon, Salem
Product Description:
24 grams of loose leaf Camellia sinensis, grown, handpicked, and processed right here on our farm in Salem, OR in May 2021.

Tasting notes: 

6/3/21: grassy, bright, and clean.

5/31/21: sweet, mellow, and spicy.

5/25/21: rich and velvety.
Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of flowers, sweet grapes, oats, and dried wood.

The golden liquor has a sweet aroma of baked squash, nuts, and green vine.  The taste has notes of nuts, nut shells, and something that reminded me of sweet pea with a long, sweet floral finish.

The refreshing floral finish to this tea, brought to mind that first deep inhale during a visit to a garden in bloom.  The flavor and sweetness remained full throughout three infusions. 

This tea was purchased by me.





Green Tea
Type: Green
Origin: USA, Oregon, Salem
Product Description:
24 grams of loose leaf Camellia sinensis, grown, handpicked, and processed right here on our farm in Salem, OR in May 2021.

Tasting notes: juicy, smooth, and creamy.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 2-3 minutes

The dry leaves have a savory aroma of ground nuts, grass, and fragrant wood.

The pale green infusion has a savory and nutty aroma with a hint of edamame.  The taste is smooth and nutty with light edamame notes.  

While I most enjoyed the results from steeping for 2 minutes for its abundance of savory umami, steeping for 3 minutes produced refreshing green grassy notes similar to sencha without burying the savory notes found in a shorter steep.  This gave me a feeling of early summer.

This tea was purchased by me.





Black Tea
Type: Black
Origin: USA, Oregon, Salem
Product Description:
24 grams of loose leaf Camellia sinensis, grown, handpicked, and processed right here on our farm in Salem, OR in May 2021.

Tasting notes: honey, pumpkin, and malty.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have a rich aroma with nutty and dark bread flour notes.

The copper orange infusion has a deep, rich aroma with notes of baked fruit and something that reminds me of dark bread.  The taste has notes of nut shell with a hint of baked fruit, mild astringency, and a dry finish.

The dry leaf aroma left me with a strong craving for fresh baked bread.  The taste mellowed by the third infusion while still being enjoyable.

This tea was purchased by me.