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Yerba Mate Matcha Powder from Vitalife

A unique powdered tea from Vitalife, not available anywhere else in the World. They have pioneered matcha production techniques to bring us this Yerba Mate matcha powder.

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Yerba Mate Matcha Powder from Vitalife
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Your Review Here?

If your company’s tea has been reviewed by The Tea Review Blog you can get the review of your choice (that we have already written), added to the very top featured reviews slot at the top main page of our website (Right Here!)

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Your Review Here?
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Chocolate Pu-erh from Tea District

This is one of my very favorite Pu-erh teas, and I think that Tea District did a fabulous job combining two of my favorite flavors into one outstanding tea.

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Chocolate Pu-erh from Tea District
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Red Dragon Pearl from thepuriTea

If you enjoy autumnal second flush Darjeelings, Pu-erh teas, and other earthy and deep teas, you will love this tea. This is also a simply high quality black tea, so if you are a black tea enthusiast, I recommend giving this one a try!

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Red Dragon Pearl from thepuriTea

Oct 15

Pure Organic Black Tea from Vitalife


Pure Black TeaVitalife just recently launched their new range of ‘Pure’ teas and were kind enough to send some over for me to review.

Of course, I obliged.

The first one I tried from this range was their Pure Organic Black Tea. Now, I know this one sounds pretty bog-standard, some might even say boring (especially compared to some of the more exotic flavours we have reviewed on this site over time) – but hear me out.

These teas have all been grown over 6,000ft above sea level, giving them a distinctive flavour that many high-altitude teas share. Teamed with the fact that these teas are certified Organic by the Soil Association in the UK, means that they are about as clean and unadulterated as bagged tea gets.

I like my black tea with milk – so this is how I tried Vitalife’s black tea.

I brew the kettle to just off the boil and fill my favorite mug, with the teabag sitting inside – Vitalife ‘tag’ hanging over the side.

I leave to brew for around 4 minutes like they advise on their packs, and pour in a drop of semi-skimmed organic milk (sticking with the ‘organic’ theme, of course).

The tea looks and smells just like any other regular, commercial, bagged black tea blend.

However, it’s when you take your first sip that this tea really proves its differentiation. Clean, malty, fresh, and superbly thirst-quenching – the fact that this tea is grown in one of the World’s cleanest natural environments above the ‘pest line’ (where no pesticides have to be used on crops, because pests cannot survive beyond this height) really shines through.

I’ve already ordered some more of this blend online – it’s a fantastic everyday brew and perfect for when you just want a good, proper, traditional cup ‘o tea.

Vitalife describe this tea as:

Grown organically to the strictest standards, on some of the World’s highest altitude tea farms – over 6,000ft above sea level – our Pure Teas are grown in some of the cleanest, clearest natural environments.

This ensures you receive a tea as flavoursome and pure as nature intended.

A highly recommended black, bagged tea. Check it out!



The Tea Guru
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Oct 15

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pu’Erh from Teas Etc.


  • Type Of leaves: Pu-Erh
  • Name Of Tea: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pu'Erh
  • Available From: Teas Etc .

[chocolate-covered strawberry pu-erh]I’m honestly not sure whether adding flavors to pu-erh (or pu’erh, or puerh, or pu erh) tea is a good idea. In this case, it’s a nicely flavored tea – but I’m not sure that it tastes anything like pu-erh, and it might taste exactly the same if there were a regular black tea as the base for the flavors. But perhaps not – perhaps some of the strong chocolate flavor I taste is due in part to the dark note of a pu-erh tea. I just can’t tell.

The dry leaves smell quite strongly of both chocolate and strawberry. The little white bits you see in the picture at left are flakes of white chocolate.

When I made the first cup of this, I could not taste any notes of pu-erh at all; all I could taste was the flavoring. Now, I really like the flavor of chocolate-covered strawberries, so this is not a bad thing. When I made a second cup, however, I could detect a slightly earthy-smoky note – almost as if there were a hint of lapsang shouchong in it – and I believe that was the pu-erh. The slightly smoky, slightly dusty flavor – and I don’t mean that in a bad way – gave some complexity to the chocolate. And on a third cup that I brewed, I used water slightly under boiling in order to save the tea for a second steeping – and what I found was that the first cup did not taste of pu-erh at all, only of the added flavorings, but the second steeping had a much stronger pu-erh taste! The smoky/earthy flavor was quite noticeable.

So we have a dilemma here: all that said, the tea tasted good either with or without the pu-erh note being detectible – so is it worth paying more for the pu-erh, rather than black tea? And conversely, if what one is looking for is the distinctive taste of pu-erh, is it worth buying some where the flavor is covered up by added flavorings? Or are people who want to drink pu-erh tea going to insist on being purists, and only buy pu-erh teas where they can clearly taste the unique notes of earth, of mushrooms, sometimes even of fish? I think this will appeal more to the flavored-tea contingent than to the pu-erh contingent. I did like the flavors a lot, myself, and don’t regret ordering it one bit – but I do note that the same quantity of the company’s chocolate-raspberry black tea costs about 23% less than this tea did, and I might order that the next time.

Because of the chocolate curls in the mix, this tea needed no added sugar – it was quite sweet enough for me as is. However, you can add a bit more sugar to it if you wish. I personally would not ever add milk to a pu-erh tea – but since there is already milk in the white chocolate (see note below), I think that if you added a bit of milk to this, it would taste rather like a flavored cup of hot cocoa.

Teas Etc. says about this tea:

Robust Pu’erh is dramatically enhanced with rich, creamy dark chocolate and strawberry chocolate curls, succulent strawberry pieces, and natural flavors.

The latest addition to our delicious dessert collection will change the way you feel about Pu’erh.

This is an office favorite and is sure to be one of yours.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tea Type: Pu’erh

Ingredients: pu’erh leaf, natural flavors, strawberry pieces, dark chocolate curls, strawberry chocolate curls

Contains: chocolate, milk, soya lecithin

The ingredients list as shown above, on the company’s web site, is not quite the same as the ingredients list on the package itself. The packaging lists the individual ingredients of the chocolate curls – cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla – and also described the others more accurately as strawberry-flavored white chocolate, the ingredients of which include: sugar, cocoa butter, full milk powder, whey powder, lactose, soy lecithin, vanilla, and natural strawberry flavor. As you can see, there are several things in there that might be allergy triggers for some people. I doubt that the amount of lactose in the tiny bit of milk in the tiny white chocolate curls is enough to trigger lactose intolerance, but I don’t know that for sure. Use your best judgment when ordering!



BunRab
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Sep 23

Pu Erh Poe from Adagio Teas


  • Type Of leaves: Pu-Erh
  • Name Of Tea: Pu Erh Poe
  • Available From: Adagio Teas

[Pu Erh Poe from Adagio]If you have been afraid to try pu erh (or puerh, or pu-erh, or pu’erh) tea because you have heard that it has an odd flavor, then this will cure you of that notion. While this tea does have an earthy flavor to it, it’s not “fishy” or some of the other words used to describe some pu-erhs, In fact, it tastes more like a dark oolong than it does like most pu-erh teas.

Part of that is because this is a loose leaf tea, rather than the bricks or tablets, large or small, that more traditional puerh comes in. The leaves resemble an oolong more in appearance as well as in flavor.

Once brewed, the tea is a medium brown – not quite as dark as a black tea, but the color varies by how long you steep the tea. The aroma varies as well – with two minutes of steeping, it is somewhat earthy; with longer steeping (more than 5 minutes), one begins to get a faint hint of the ocean-y note that characterizes many pu-erhs, which is often described as fishy, though to me that part of the pu-erh flavor is more precisely like the chitinous shells that shrimp have, once those shells have been thoroughly rinsed. I know that sounds odd, and I don’t mean it as a bad thing, but it is the sort of thing that puts some people off pu-erhs, and I want to reiterate that this pu-erh doesn’t taste like that at all, unless you steep it for a long time.

The taste is earthy, smooth (though not as smooth as an oolong, at least to my tongue) and very calming. A second steeping remains smooth – again, as long as one doesn’t steep it for too long.

Adagio Teas describes this tea as:

One of the five main types of tea (white, green, oolong and black being the others), pu’erh tea stands apart with its uncommonly soft earthy flavor and woodsy tones. Unlike all other teas, pu’erh (pronounced ‘poo-err’) is actually aged. The tea leaves go through a natural fermentation process before the tea is gently dried. This creates a cup with zero astringency and deep, rich body. Pu’erh is extraordinarily smooth and deeply refreshing. Our Pu’erh Poe (the shou variety of pu’erh) gives a clean, woodsy aroma, warm hay inside a barn, mushrooms and savory vegetables. Wilted flower notes and a faint dark chocolate texture. Mellow and grounding. If the flavor is too strong for you, simply dilute with water (which, interestingly, doesn’t work for many other teas!) Pu’erh is extremely versatile – you can steep it for as little as 30 second or 30 minutes, whatever pleases your palate. It won’t get bitter and is great for multiple infusions.

While on the one hand this is a nice, gentle way to try a pu-erh, on the other hand, it doesn’t taste very much like the dark bricks of pu-erh that the purists insist on, so once you drink one cup of this, you’ll have to go on and brew it longer, to get used to it, before easing on to the more traditional pu-erh aged teas. Some pu-erhs even come with their vintage year stamped on the label; I have one small poker-chip-sized brick (more of a tablet, really) that is a 2002, and that’s by no means the oldest pu-erh running around out there. Some large bricks of pu-erh last for years, with people chipping off a little at a time for each cup! You’ll be glad for the convenience of this tea, with its loose leaves and ease of preparation, not to mention ease of storage in a nice packet. Adagio does carry some older pu-erh, their “pu-erh pearls,” which are traditional solid chunks but in round balls rather than squarish brick, and their pearls are aged 5 years. So you’ll be able to continue your journey of pu-erh discovery!



BunRab
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Aug 14

Sultry Summer White from Teas Etc.


[Sultry Summer White from Teas Etc.]The large needles of this white tea are pretty when dry, and expand enormously when brewed; make sure you start with a large infuser or a larger size tea sack. You want this tea to be able to brew to its fullest!

The beautiful leaves are complemented by the copious amounts of dried fruit, and the taste once brewed bears this out; one can taste individual berry, peach, and citrus flavors. The fruit pieces expand when brewed, too, and I have to admit that I am tempted to pick out and nibble on the raspberry bits.

The tea itself is quite light-tasting, and can stand to be brewed a bit on the long side – Teas Etc.’s web site tips for white tea suggest 3 to 6 minutes, and I’d go with 5 or 6 minutes for this tea. Be sure not to use boiling water – the leaves will taste bitter if scorched! If you have an electric pot that only goes to boiling, then the BunRab method for getting water down to the temperature for white tea is simple: take a 12-ounce mug of boiling water, and throw in two medium ice cubes – poof!, you have two 6-ounce cups’ worth of 180 degree water (or, of course, the full mug to brew for yourself, if you drink tea in the quantities I do.)

The tea doesn’t need sweetener, but a bit of real sugar will make the fruit flavors stronger. If you ice this tea – and I do; any tea that I drink in the summer gets iced! – you’ll definitely want to add a bit of sugar, since otherwise the fruit flavors get quite muted when cold. If you use a slice of lemon in the iced tea, it’s going to be very lemony and wash out the other fruit flavors, but a slice of orange gives a better balance and still leaves the peach flavor detectable.

Teas Etc. describes this tea as:

A seductive combination of jasmine silver needle, berries and lemon grass creates a soft, sultry brew.
Sultry Summer White Tea Type: White Tea
Ingredients: jasmine silver needle, raspberry pieces, peach pieces, lemon grass, orange peel
Origin of Sultry Summer White : Fujian, China (base tea)

White teas can be quite variable in the amount of caffeine they contain – one shouldn’t automatically assume that all white teas are lower in caffeine than green and black teas. Teas Etc. has a little scale of bars for the caffeine strength, and rates this tea as being about a third of the way between zero and coffee – enough caffeine to keep you awake, if you’re sensitive to it.

One more iced tea tip: as I write this, in early August, fresh raspberries are on sale at farm stands and supermarkets. If you buy lots, you can freeze them by spreading them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and putting them in the freezer; after they’re fully frozen, they can be gathered into a container or freezer bag, but if you try to do the initial freezing that way, what you’ll get is a solid lump of berry, not individual frozen ones. And you want individual frozen ones, because when you’re making iced tea, using a couple of frozen berries as well as your ice cubes accents the fruit flavors in the tea nicely, and gives you a great little treat to nibble on, mostly defrosted, by the time you finish the glass of tea.



BunRab
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