Day 16: North African Mint

When it comes to green tea (and white and oolong teas, for that matter), you should never steep it with boiling water. Slightly cooler water is needed,  or else you’ll scald the leaves.

There are three methods that I know of in order to reach the ideal temperature. One is to let the boiled water sit for a few minutes. Another is to temper with cold water, and a third is tempering with an ice cube. In the second and third case, you’re technically using boiling water, but you’re making sure to pour the hot water over the colder parts, and not directly on the tea (if at all possible).

Over my three forays with green tea so far, I’ve played once with each of these methods. To date, I’ve no favourite. I do, however, think that I’d feel much more confident if I had a thermometer handy so I could measure how hot the water was, and making sure I was staying close to suggested steeping temperatures.

In time, I’ll work on that, and find what does work best for me. If anyone has any best practices, I’d love to hear them.

Anyway, on with the tea of the day.

 

Those are sensitive tea leaves. ...along with a bunch of... not as sensitive herbs and spices.

Those are sensitive tea leaves. …along with a bunch of… not as sensitive herbs and spices.

Day 16: North African Mint by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: cardamom, peppermint, ginger, Japanese-style Hojicha green tea, licorice root, fennel, clove, black pepper

Steeped: 1.5 tsp in tea ball, brewed in-cup. Brewed with boiled water tempered by ice cube.

First cup: Steeped 3 minutes.
The mint is definitely the flavour that comes out strongest in this tea. The other ingredients seem to work to intensify the sensation of mint, without actually taking it over. I can smell the spices and the ginger far more than I can taste them, but the ginger’s sweetness certainly does come through, and I have to guess that the tingliness which I would associate with the mint is actually coming from the spices as well. The overall flavour seems very simple and well-put together for all the ingredients, though.

Second cup: Resteep. Steeped 4 minutes.
The mint less prominent this time around, though it’s still detectable. With its fading, the complexity of the tea’s flavour seems to rise as the spices gain prominence. There’s still a sweetness that hits at the back of the throat, and the different kinds of heat and spice all hit at slightly different times, making for an interesting experience. It seems slightly less cohesive, but still very complementary.

Third steep: Re-resteep. Steeped over 5 minutes.
Still very strong flavour. Again, the spices are coming out more than the mint, but still in a very complimentary way.

Overall impression: An interesting flavour. Goes from deceptively simple to more complex, while still maintaining a strong flavour profile over several steeps, and evolves over the course of them. If I wasn’t so full of tea right now, I’d probably see what a fourth steep was like.

My rating: 80. A-. I like a tea that will last over time with a good amount of flavour to it. Not sure if I would buy it for myself in large quantities, but still something I’d keep in mind for sipping now and again.

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Day 15: Japanese Sencha

Ok. I’ll admit. Some days aren’t very tea-friendly. That’s not to say that tea’s not wanted, but more that there isn’t enough time to savour the tea as much as you’d like. This is one of those days. I was very busy, and as a result didn’t really get enough time with my tea to really be able to fairly judge the tea for review, though I did have a lovely first cuppa.

Thus, I’ve done the first part of this, and plan to do a fresh brew sometime soon so I can get a proper impression of this tea over a few steeps. Look forward to an edit and a full review soon!

 

Straight Green Tea

Straight Green Tea

Day 15: Japanese Sencha by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: Fine organic steamed Japanese green tea from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Steeped: 1 tsp in tea ball, brewed in-cup. Brewed with water boiled, then left for 5 minutes.

First cup: Steeped 2 minutes.
I should have waited longer for the water to cool before steeping. Judging by taste, I have the feeling it wasn’t quite low enough for this tea. The tea, however, is light, grassy, and slightly metallic, all of which I’m used to associating with green tea. Still slightly hoping that the latter isn’t from slightly scalded leaves…. There is a freshness that comes with this short a steep of a green tea, though, and that is lovely to taste.
That being said, I had a tea stalk floating upright in mine for the first little while, which is apparently an auspicious sign. Hopefully good luck is coming my way soon!

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Day 14: Goji Pop

There’s something to be said about fruity teas and dessert teas — the teas that remind you of decadence and dessert while having few to no calories. To date, the top caloric count I’ve seen on a tea is around 10 per cup (and I was surprised to find one that high!), and even that’s the approximate equivalent of around a minute or two of physical exertion. So, it really is a guilt-free way to enjoy something sweet, decadent, and delicious. Unless, of course, you decide to have your cake and drink it too. But even then, you’re only getting the large count from one, not the other.

Now, I’m not a total calorie-counting, healthy foods only person. I have my weaknesses and enjoy my share of sweets. But still, it’s nice to have some good teas around for when I’m in the mood for something, but aren’t quite in the mood for a full something big. Or, as I happen to have a strong preference over the temperature range at which I like my tea, when I’m in the mood for something hot.

IMG_0862

Just a spoonful or two is all it takes!

Day 14: Goji Pop by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: Apple pieces, goji berries, hibiscus blossoms, rosehip peel, honeydew melon cubes (honeydew melon, sugar), marigold petals. With artificial flavouring.

Steeped: 2 tsp in a tea bag, brewed in-cup. Brewed with freshly boiled water.

First cup: Steeped 5.5 minutes. Clear.
There’s a bit of an odd scent to this tea. Definitely berry-ish, but not something I can easily place. It could either be the mix of the flavours, or the fact that I’m… less than familiar with goji berries on whole. The tea has a nice sweet-and-sour taste to it. A fruity sweet and a berry sour, I think — it reminds me a bit of a mixed fruit pie, but in tea form. There’s a nice richness and fullness to the flavour too. It’s strong, and lasts beyond an initial burst like some of the herbal teas do. It does leave a bit of a sour aftertaste, however.

Second cup: Resteep. Steeped 10 minutes. Clear.
It’s about half as colourful, and half as full in flavour. The flavour that is there is still fairly strong, however, just not as rich as before. The berry’s tartness still comes through, though the aftertaste seems sweeter, bringing more with it from the apple and melon perhaps.

Overall impression: I’m glad I still have enough of this to make another brew or two, because I think I may need the bit of further time to make a full impression of this tea. I like it — like I said, it’s kind of like a mixed berry pie, and I do enjoy my mixed berry pies. However, it’s not… quite something that I’d go out of my way to buy either. Probably on the level of tea I’d request if someone offered it to me, but not something I’d keep in plentiful stock on my own. We’ll see if this changes after another brew or two. ;)
I also slightly regret not having this tea loose, but I didn’t really have the time or the want for as many cups as normal today. Next time, provided I have enough, I’ll have it loose and see what I think of it then.

My rating: 79. B+. Again, not quite there at the yay level, but very close. A solid effort from a solid tea.

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Day 13: Green and Fruity

I know, I know, you see the name of this tea, and you’re thinking something like fruit punch with a green tea base.

You’d be wrong entirely.

You see, with Rooibos, there are two types: “red” rooibos, which is where we get the name “red tea” from, and “green” rooibos. Like normal green tea, this is the unoxidised form. However, this still counts as “red tea”, as it’s from the rooibos plant, whereas green tea comes from the actual tea plant, Camellia sinensis.

Look at all that green and fruitiness!

Look at all that green and fruitiness!

Day 13: Green and Fruity by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: Rooibos, apple, mango, papaya

Steeped: 1 tbsp in my 2-cup pot. Brewed with freshly boiled water.

First cup: Steeped 5 minutes. Clear.
The mango/papaya taste is coming through, it tastes kind of… odd in a tea. It tastes… a little off. Like I’m expecting a puree or something thicker and not getting it. I don’t even know how to explain it. The sweetness is odd, but I wonder if milk or sugar would improve it. I will have to experiment.

Second cup: Steeped approx 40 minutes. Added 1 tsp sugar.
The added sweetness does add to the fruitiness, but it still just doesn’t quite work for me…. I feel like I need some other flavour to balance the fruit, or else have it either be stronger or much weaker.

Third cup: Actually around half a cup. Steeped approx 55 minutes. Added milk.
Nope. Still not doing it.

Overall impression: Yeah, this tea’s just not doing it for me. Someone who enjoys mango and papaya more may enjoy it, but it just tastes… odd for me. Not going to resteep it, because there’s no point wasting my time on something that, literally, isn’t my cup of tea.

My rating: 65. C. Like I said above, this just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s not bad, it’s just really not to my taste at all. For someone who likes the flavour combination, it may be great. It just doesn’t do it for me.

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Day 12: Forever Nuts

I think in song.

That may seem like an odd sentence, but I swear it’s true.

Okay, so maybe not all my thoughts are musically-based, but it hardly takes anything — a word, a phrase, a few hummed notes, a picture of something or a soundalike — and I’m off with a song firmly stuck in my head.

A musically named tea if ever there was one

A musically named tea if ever there was one

This tea is one of the ones that does it to me far too easily.

While there are a few songs that I suppose could be equally likely to be the cause of this, for me it’s the fault of a certain Alphaville song that may have been covered by (among others) One Direction…. (For those of you thinking of the Rod Stewart song, you’d also be right, it’s just not the one that comes to mind for me.)

For me, it’s a fun game. And a genre-crossing one too, sometimes with results that I’m sure the tea creators or musical artists ever thought possible (though I’m still nowhere near being the next Weird Al).

Still, there’s something all too fun about changing a certain song from A Muppet Christmas Carol to be all about how there’s only one more steep ’til Christmas. (Tea humour is a wonderful thing, is it not?)

Anyway, today’s musical tea, and another beautiful red/pink-steeping one is reviewed below for your enjoyment.

 

Nutty, fruity, and just waiting to be brewed-ty.

Nutty, fruity, and just waiting to be brewed-ty.

Day 12: Forever Nuts by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: Apple, almond, cinnamon, beetroot.

Steeped: 1tbsp in my 2-cup pot. Made with freshly boiled water.

First Cup: steeped 5:15. Clear.
More fuchsia than yesterday’s “red tea”, though it’s still the same ingredient (beetroot) creating the colour. There’s a lovely fruitiness from the apple, nuttiness from the almond (which, by the way, is the only nut in this), and sweetness from the cinnamon. Nowhere near as pungent as yesterday’s tea, and I somewhat miss that, but quite enjoyable. Hoping it will be stronger with the second cup (same steep, brewed longer).

Second cup: steeped approx 30-40 minutes. Clear.
Stronger fruitiness. There’s a lovely, sweet aftertaste which lingers after. The nutty flavour comes out quite nicely as well. Still a little mild, but stronger.

Third cup: Resteep. Steeped for 10 minutes. Clear.
The tea is now a salmon pink.  Still some fruity and nutty flavour, but very mild. Nothing unexpected, though, as most tisanes don’t resteep well at all. (I’ve always wondered how flavoured teas can, but tisanes can’t. Anyone have any idea?)

Fourth cup: Same resteep. Steeped for around 40 minutes. Clear.
Although there’s not much substance, there’s still a lovely ghost of nutty, fruity flavour that lingers long after the tea is drank. Pleasant, though not substantial.

Overall impression: This tea is very delicious, but also very light. I feel like I would want to brew this at a higher strength than recommended (and I used a heaping tbsp as it was!), in order to try and get a stronger flavour from the tea. However, the flavour that is there is good — fruity and nutty, though I’m still not sure how accurate a name Forever Nuts is when only one nut is involved. (That being said, it still makes me want to sing, so I guess it’s all good.)

My rating: 79. B+ Lovely, but not quite enough… substance to get an A from me.

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Day 11: Sleigh Ride

Look at that lovely shade of red....

Look at that lovely shade of red….

One thing that I love about herbal teas is the colours that they come in. My absolute favourite? The ones that brew a bright beet pinkish red. The colour is so rich, and I know I’m in for a slightly dry, probably fruity, and overall delicious cup of caffeine-free delightfulness.

Today’s cup is one of those, and certainly did not let me down at all. Yum! Plus, with the name, it’s suddenly all wintery, and perfect for Christmastime! Double yum!

The Tea

The Tea

Day 11: Sleigh Ride by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: Apple, hibiscus blossoms, candied pineapple, candied papaya, beetroot, cinnamon, raisins, coconut, roasted almonds, popped rice, artificial flavouring.

Steeped: 4 tsp in 2-cup pot. Brewed with freshly boiled water.

First Cup: Steeped 5.5 minutes. Clear.
Very red. Very fruity. There’s a dry, strong fruity flavour that hits all at once, and then disappears almost as quickly, followed by a mild, nutty taste. There’s a lovely sweetness to it. There’s also a, pleasant, dry, fruity (or at least berry-y) aftertaste.

Still holding its shade.

Still holding its shade.

Second cup: Resteep. 15 minutes. Clear.
More red than a second steep of these red-coloured teas usually are. The initial burst of flavour is missing, but it automatically goes to that nice aftertaste. There is, however, a nice, sweet initial taste, and it still has quite a try mouthfeel.

Third cup: Same resteep. Approximately 40-45 minutes. Clear.
The fruity taste is a bit stronger, and the tea seems somehow a bit thicker. There’s still a bit of fruitiness (someone else mentioned apple and I think that’s what it is) but I’m mainly noticing the sweetness over any actual flavour. Still fairly enjoyable, but not as wonderful as the first steep by far.

Overall impression: The first steep is amazing. It makes me almost wish that I hadn’t given half of it to my mother. The second steep wasn’t half bad either, though not anywhere as near as the first — especially good considering it’s a tisane, which often don’t resteep well at all.

My rating: 80. A-. Would be higher if the flavour lasted longer than a burst or if it resteeped as wonderfully (though it still is a better tea for resteeping than most tisanes!). Still, I can’t deny the lovely flavour at least a low A.

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Day 10: Detox

Day 10, everyone! Somewhere between today and tomorrow, we reach the official 1% mark! Isn’t it wonderful? I hope the rest of the 99% is just as fun and delicious as this first bit has been. :)

Tea prep in action!

Tea prep in action!

That being said, today was a bit of an icky day. Thankfully, once again, the tea elves have managed to anticipate my needs and given me a nice low-caffeine, medicinal-ish tea to soothe all my problems and pains away.

Seriously. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad that as of yet the tea selections (in my advent calendar and not at all chosen daily by me) have been able to suit my needs perfectly. Thank you tea elves, whoever and wherever you are.

Look at that lemongrass!

Look at that lemongrass!

Day 10: Detox by DAVIDsTEA

Ingredients: Rooibos, sencha green tea, ginger, lemongrass, ginkgo, juniper berries. With natural lemon flavouring.

Steeped: 1.5tsp in tea ball. Brewed with freshly boiled water.

First Cup: Steeped 4 minutes. Clear.
The lemongrass and ginger are what hit me the most. The overall flavour is mild, refreshing, earthy/grassy/herb-y. It somewhat relaxes me to drink it.

Second cup: Resteep. Steeped 5 minutes. Clear.
It’s odd. Anything with lemongrass tends to give me this herbal medicinal feel, but that doesn’t make it seem… uninviting to me. The spiciness from the ginger is a little less, but there is some nice sweetness along with the herb-y and lemon-y flavours, and just a hint of bite. It’s quite nice, really, even if it is still a bit medicinal.

Third cup: Re-resteep. Steeped aprpox 5 minutes. Clear.
This cup holds up to resteeps a lot better than some of the other teas I’ve had so far. This is the third steep, and the flavour qas still quite strong, rather than being barely there but still drinkable. Still rather herb-y, and still easiest to pick out the lemongrass. Quite enjoyable.

Overall impression: This tea really does live up to its name of “detox”, at least in feel. Something about the herbal nature of the mix just seems… detoxifying to me. While I haven’t had a full meal that I need digestive help with as the tea suggests it’s best for (quite the opposite actually, I’ve hardly eaten today due to some stomach problems), it feels nice and soothing, and makes me feel like

My rating: 85. A. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did, but it just seems all… natural and… right. I’m not sure how else to put it.
Although I’m rating it high, I’m not sure if it’s something I’d stock a lot of, but it’s certainly something I’d consider keeping around. This is the kind of tea that, while I wouldn’t go for as an indulgence, would definitely be great for when things aren’t all quite right, and I want something to help calm me down. Particularly if paired with some soothing music and ocean sounds…..

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