Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Margaret's Golden Apple Spice Green T

This is another tea I got from Margaret's at a 50% discount.  To be honest, I haven't been feeling the urge to drink heavier teas despite the autumn weather.  This tea combines a lighter green tea base (they say sencha) with apple cider flavor.

Outsides:  First off, this is not on Margaret's site because a lot of things aren't on Margaret's site, but also possibly because it's on sale.  I also did a quick google search and could not find any teas that look like they have the same ingredients that I saw from the package.  From what I remember, the base is sencha and the add-ins are apple pieces, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, saffron threads and other things that I don't remember.  It's a very colorful blend and smells a bit like the spice of apple cider.  I steeped it in 185 degree water for 3 minutes.  It's a nice golden color as the name suggests and smells like fall spice.

Insides:  First off, the base is ok but nothing that you'd want to drink on your own.  It's smooth, has a medium body and isn't too bitter.  As for the flavorings, you get a lot more spice than apple.  There is a sweet and sour fruity midnote surrounded by the cinnamon and cloves and allspice and all the other spices that are in there.  These spices completely overwhelm the tea taste and the fruit taste.

Tilt:  I got this tea at a deep discount and can't find a good retailer online BUT I'm sure you can get some cheap sencha and jurryrig your own blend for some cheap price.  I think it's actually a lovely fall tea but I don't think I'll really drink it in the spring or summer months.  Because it's flavored, I think it's good to drink cold or with sugar.  I think my biggest problem with it is that it's pretty much a green chai with a hint of a fruity taste.  But, if I want something spicy then i'll probably get a chai and there are plenty of those with different bases (black, green and red).

Overall:  There's nothing wrong with it or bad tasting but if you want something like it, just get a green chai.

My Rating:  Pass.

Maragret's is a tea retailer in the Squirrel Hill district of Pittsburgh.

Hawthorn Tea and What the Hell Did I Buy!?

A week or so ago, I ordered an "oolong sampler" from Red Leaf Tea since it had a lot of oolongs and other teas that I wanted to try and was $14.99 for 12 teas.  Well, I received the teas and fun fact, the vast majory of them do not have any English on them.  Thankfully, Red Leaf Tea has a nice guide on their website as to what everything is, but I still wish I would have gotten something with labels on it or at least a list.

Hawthorn Fruits are little crabapple looking fruits that are used in many cultures except the United States.  I've unknowingly had them before as this candy called Haw Flakes, which is a bit like a fruit leather and tastes like a cross between strawberries and prunes.  Apparently, traditional Chinese Medicine uses it as a digestive aid.

Outsides:  When you open up the packet, it looks like a bunch of cut-open berries (which is exactly what they are).  I added the entire packet to 8 ounces of boiling water but I have no idea is that's what I'm supposed to do.  The liquid has a slight pink tint to it and smells like prunes.

Insides:  Honestly, this just tastes like sour water with very little other flavors or scents going on with it.  I tried ripping up the fruit a bit more to see if it does anything, but one thing I will tell you is that the fruit pretty much just tastes like a sour prune.  After forgetting about it overnight, I will say that it does taste a bit more fruity but it's mostly just sour water.

Tilt:  I don't know how much this is if you find it although I have seen haw candies at our big Asian store and they're pretty cheap.  Obviously, I don't care for this but I'm sure the fresh fruit would be nice to use in a preserve or pie for a bit of a sour kick to balance out something sweet like strawberries or maybe some apples.  It does taste a bit better cold.

Overall:  I'm not a fan.

My Rating:  Pass.

Red Leaf Tea sells an obscene amount of flavored Matchas and other teas.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harney and Sons Egyptian Chamomile

This was given to me from a friend after I told her about my growing love for Tazo Calm.  Although Tazo is a blend of a few ingredients, the chamomile is the most prominent one and I've just been liking the natural sweetness that this tea has.  She mentioned that this tea tastes a bit different from normal chamomile so I'm curious to find out how different it really is.

Outsides:  Harney and Sons does what any tea company you should be caring for does and packages their teabags in individually-wrapped foil sachets (with paper on the outside so it looks pretty).  The ingredient is pure Egyptian chamomile.  I put the teabag in 8 oz of boiling water for 5+ minutes.  The color of the liquid is yellow and the tea smells fruity and sweet.

Insides:  When I think of chamomile tea, I think of a sweeter herbal with a fruity-floral scent and a thicker mouthfeel.  This particular chamomile tea tastes fruitier but also the scent is much more fragrant than what I'm used to getting with chamomiles.  There also is the slightest cooling sensation when it goes down the throat.  The liquid doesn't have as much of a mouthfeel as normal chamomile but I'm honestly not sure whether that's because I should have brewed it at 6 oz, my friend gave me slightly old tea (tea in teabags is usually dust and fannings or really small tea and that tends to degrade a lot faster than loose-leaf) or it's just different.

Tilt: Harney and Sons sells this in many varieties including 1.5 oz loose for $5.75 (including their classy-as-hell tin) or a 20 count box for $6.  Yes, that's a bit expensive but I think that the quality in Harney and Sons products makes them worth it.  Chamomile is one of those tissanes that you're probably going to have in your house whether you like it or not so the only thing really unique about this is the different taste notes.  Chamomile is an herb so it should be safe for children and I think it's good sweetened and iced.

Overall:  Whether you like it or not, chamomile tea is a bit of a necessity for everyone.  You don't need to get this if you already have a chamomile tea but if you don't, I highly recommend this one if you're looking for a pure herb.

My Rating:  Buy It!

Harney and Sons is a British tea company that sells mid-quality tea at a pretty reasonable price.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Stash Jasmine Blossom Green Tea

When people tell me that they love tea, I tend to put on my snob glasses and judge them because too many people I know who say they "love" tea just drink Lipton bagged black tea (there is nothing wrong with that, but I would inform you that there are better options out there).  Well, one of my friends is a tea snob equal to my snobbishness but without a blog, and when we got into a discussion on Jasmine teas, she recommended this one to me because she said it tasted similar to dragon pearls but at a fraction of the price.   I then got this tea when it was on sale and now I have three bags of this stuff so I hope she's right. 

Also sorry for the crappier photos, especially my stained cup.

Outsides:  I got the 3 pack of the 3.5 oz loose leaf and they come in these foil pouches and the ingredients are just green tea and jasmine blossoms.  Much like any jasmine green, it smells strongly of jasmine.  I brewed a teaspoon in 8 ounces of 170 degree F for 3 minutes.  It has a more golden color to it and smells like sweet jasmine.

Insides:  My friend was almost right about this tasting like jasmine pearls.  The tea isn't as sweet as the ones I've tried but compared to other green teas I've tried, there's a more prominent sweetness and less astringency than normal.  The jasmine is very fragrant but you never get the feeling that you're drinking a flower.  Honestly, this is just a well-balanced tea that gives you a good feeling of zen. 

Tilt:  I bought the 3-pack on Amazon which is normally priced at $19 but since there was a 20% off Stash coupon, it would have cost $15.20, so a little more than $5 for 3.5 oz of tea.  Even at the regular price, it isn't too bad as another tea which is comparable is Adagio's Jasmine Chun Hao which is $8 for 3 oz plus cost of shipping (I will say that the Jasmine Chun Hao is better though).  This is a good everyday jasmine green that's quality is between "I don't care, I just want something floral and cheap" (Sunflower Brand Jasmine Tea) and "Oh god, this is too expensive so I'll just drink it for special occassions" (pretty much any Jasmine Dragon Pearl from a shop, Jasmine Chun Hao).  I'd save Sunflower for iced tea but this one would probably be good too and is just a nice tea to have around. 

Overall:  I like it and it will be consumed.

My Rating:  Buy it!

Stash Tea is a popular American tea company.  Also, they're having a 20% off Friends and Family Event until 11/12/13 by using the code FAMILY13 at checkout. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

English Tea Store Bingo Blueberry Tea

First off, I got this tea at Margaret's but they purchase their tea from English Tea Store (I could tell from the artwork and names).  Blueberry herbal tissanes are something I always seem to gravitate towards and I think they tend to work all year round.

Outsides:  Ingredients for this tea are Luxury natural dried currants, blue berries, apples, rasins, hibiscus, cornflower petals, rosehip pieces, and natural flavors.  This is a bit different than the other tissanes I've tried in this variety because most of them use green rooibos as a mixer.  I brewed 3 teaspoons of this in 16 oz of boiling water for...7 minutes (it doesn't matter with these kinds of teas).  It's a lovely dark crimson color and smells like berries.

Insides:  This tea is very tart yet sweet and almost has the mouthfeel of a juice or punch.  It seems a bit thicker than your normal tissane and every sip is full of blueberry and currant flavors.  Compared to the other tissanes of this type, this one has a prominant cherry note which I haven't noticed with other teas of this type and lacks any spice notes (like the cinnamon in the Davidson's bulk).  There is a floral top note but it isn't as noticeable as the others.  

Tilt:  It's $5.99 at Margaret's and $7.30 on Amazon for 4 oz of this so more expensive than the other places but less expensive than Teavana.  However, the subtraction of the green rooibos means that you can mix it to make a similar product to the others so that actually helps lower the price (I actually got a 16 oz bag of green rooibos for $12 so that's how I got reminded).  Like all of the other blueberry tissanes I've reviewed, this one is caffeine-free so it's great for before bed, pregnant women and children and even better for the later since it's fruity and yummy but without the sugar.  I think this kind of tea works well for all seasons and is great iced or hot.

Overall:  I'm going to buy it again since I need something to mix into the green rooibos I bought and I think it's a good tissane to check out.  It also makes a great air-freshener when brewed.

My Rating:  Buy it!

Here's the Amazon link.  I'm sorry that that tea is Add-on only, but it's something for non-Pittsburgh dwelling people.  Margaret's is found in the Squirrel Hill district of Pittsburgh.  I really hate their website, especially since they've Tea-Pittsburgh.  Seriously?  Prestogeorge has a MUCH better selection than you do.  /rant

Trader Joe's Joe coffee

Let's make this clear.  I got this super cheap coffee for the BF.  He used to not care about what kind of coffee he drank until I started using my press.  I try to use single-source beans at least.  I might get some roasted from the local coffee shop.  But when I buy crappy coffee, I buy it for him.

He is starting to tell what is "good" coffee and what it "bad" coffee, so there might be hope for him yet.

Outsides:  Trader Joes Joe is supposed to be an incredibly smooth cup of coffee and a medium roast, but there isn't as much flowery language involved as with the Bali Blue Moon.  It smells like a lot of cheap coffees, robust with a nice roasty topnote and a bitter bottom note.  I put 3 tablespoons in 10 oz of water for slightly less than 4 minutes.  It looks like coffee and smells like cheap coffee.

Inside:  This one definately has a fuller body than the Bali one with a pleasant roasty note.  It's still fairly bitter meaning I might have to reduce the steeping time by another 30 seconds but the other flavors do a better job at masking it.  It actually finishes cleanly.  Although I can think of individually-sourced coffee that does a better job in terms of flavor, this one isn't too bad for something on the super cheap spectrum.

Tilt:  This coffee is $4.99 for 14 oz at Trader Joes so it's pretty riddiculously cheap even if you have to use a bit extra to make it acceptable.  It's a decent blend to have around for those people like my boyfriend who just don't give two rat's butts about how it tastes.  It's also strong enough that you might be able to make an ok iced coffee with it.

Overall:  I mean, Trader Joes does give a full refund if you're not satisfied so what's the worst that can happen?

My Rating:  Try it!

Trader Joe's aka. Yuppie Mart is a grocery store that's fairly overrated.  It's not too expensive though so check it out.

My Cuppa Tea Peachy Liz White Tea

It can be both a good and bad thing to live three minutes away from a tea store.  On one hand, it's nice being able to quickly stop in if you need to pick something up.  But then you find out that they're discontinuing a bunch of teas and they're marked down 50% off and end up spending 30 dollars on tea that you just don't need.  Peachy Liz was something that I don't think I could part with partially because of the unique ingredients and partially because I love me some flavored white tea with peach being a classic flavor.  

Outsides:  Peachy Liz is a fruit and floral white tea with the ingredieents of Bai Mu Dan white tea, marigolds, golden chrysanthemum, peach pieces, vanilla bits, and peach vanilla flavor.  I love the big fluffy white tea leaves but am a bit conflicted on the scent.  On one hand, it's very sweet smelling and is reminiscent of peaches and cream.  On the other hand, it reminds me of cough syrup.  I brewed it for 2 minutes in 170 degree Celsius water.  It's a light yellow color with a peaches and cream smell to it.

I want to get a picture showing the color better but here's Rusty for now.  I've had this at home before and no, Rusty does not make a good infuser for this tea.

Insides:  This tea is pure sweetness.  Whatever floral is in here just adds to the syrupy sensation that this tea invokes.  The peach and vanilla flavor is very strong with a slight tea hint to it and the chrysanthemum and marigold add more of a rounded sweetness (and I'm guessing a yellow color) while giving it a bit extra body.  Even without the ridiculously strong smell, this tea is just naturally sweet.  Not sugar sweet, but there really is no reason to sweeten it.  That all being said, this desert white tea only has that strange syrupy taste which I think most people would be able to ignore, no bitter aftertaste or strange chemical tastes.  For a desert substitution, it works well.

Tilt:  Since I bought this tea on clearance, it's not fair for me to tell you to price I paid for it because of course it's worth it but you won't be able to get it at that price.  I found this site though and I have to say that as much as I love this tea, I would never pay that price for it.  Because of how light and fruity this tea is, it's very good for people who aren't the biggest fans of tea yet and also those watching their sugar intake since it's naturally sweet.  It's also pretty flavorful so it should make a wonderful iced tea.

Overall?  I already bought 8 oz of this (and considering how fluffy this stuff is, that is a LOT of tea).  I like it, my tea-newbie boyfriend loves it and if it's cheap where you live, you probably would at least find a use for it.

My Rating:  Buy it!

Margaret's is located in the Squirrel Hill district of Pittsburgh.