Tea: Movie Night from David’s Tea
Price: $7.50 for 50 g (1.76 oz)
Ingredients: Apple pieces, sencha-style green tea (the style detail is a bit suspicious, why not just say sencha?), popped popcorn, artificial flavoring
So, right off the bat you know this is going to be a weird tea. I mean, popcorn? Seriously? Well, apparently yes, there is popped popcorn in this tea. That’s not too odd, considering genmaicha has rice in it and tastes good, so I’m not really put off by popcorn as much as I am curious. What’s also really interesting is the choice to combine popcorn and apples, not something you’d really expect. Of course I have to review such an odd flavor profile.
Immediately looking at this mixture, there’s a very strong disproportion between the tea leaves and the apple pieces. Hopefully this still tastes like green tea with the quantity of actual tea leaves in there. The popcorn is also visible, and are little small pieces that stick out amid the apple. It smells salty, and a bit buttery. There’s a savory aspect that makes me almost want more of a cinnamon edge along with it. The apple makes the smell a bit sour as well, and altogether it’s a really complex smell for so few ingredients. Overall very interesting, very unique smell.
There’s a lot of specks and residue at the bottom of the cup, but this liquid itself is a nice golden brown. There’s a moderate smell from the liquid, and it’s honestly a bit starchy, probably from the popcorn. It tastes heavy. The flavor works better than expected, but it’s still a bit self-contradictory and the balance is odd. None of the flavors are dominant, but that also leaves the tea feeling a bit weak because the nuances merge together. This tea also left a dry feeling in my mouth, most likely from all the specks at the bottom of the cup.
I’ll admit I bought this tea for the novelty of popcorn tea. I think it is a novelty tea, and not something I’d drink every day by far. For the price, I wouldn’t buy more than 50 grams, especially your first time trying it. This tea might be good in baking, but I wouldn’t add sugar or milk to it. Maybe honey, but even that is a stretch. There needs to be more oomph, but additives will complicate the taste further.
Tea: Nonpareil Taiwan Li Shan Oolong from Teavivre
Cost: $5 for a sample, or $28.90 for 1.75 oz
Ingredients: Oolong tea
So, this tea is insanely expensive, and I forgot how much even just the sample is and got a bit of a surprise looking back at the tea, but that almost makes me more excited to try this. The website says this tea is good for over 8 steeps. After finishing this review, I’m at 4 steeps, and the flavor hasn’t faded, so that’s good. As a note, the package says to steep for 1-5 minutes so I steeped for three.
I lost my entire review thanks to a glitch, which is why it took so long to get this up. Sorry.
The dry leaves are approximately 1 cm long, and tight, forest green furls with lighter green scattered throughout. The dry smell is sweet, and very floral. It’s light and fragrant, but nothing special. Upon becoming wet, the leaves’s smell became much more vegetal and slightly nutty. It was surprising to see such a dramatic change in the smell.
The leaves expanded well after steeping, and the liquid was a nice gold. Unlike the leaves, the tea had a faint, almost nondescript smell. Taking a sip, the flavor hovers. It’s very brisk and light, and while I wish it were more vegetal it’s got a nice softness to it. There was no bitterness by the end of the cup, but it left my mouth dry, which was a bit annoying. The third and fourth steeps were definitely drier than the others, so I’m wondering whether that trend will continue.
Overall? If you aren’t steeping this at least three times don’t bother with it. Definitely get the sample before buying the larger size, just in case you don’t like it. Tea purists would enjoy this tea, but it’s not the type that would lend well to sugar or other additives, so if you like adding things maybe skip this one. The flavor is light enough to be paired with food, but I wouldn’t use it in cooking or it would get drowned out. I also wouldn’t try to blend this tea with others, except maybe jasmine, because again, it would get drowned out.
Tea: Felix Felicis from the Magic Potions Fandom Blend set from Adagio Teas
Price: $8 for a 3 oz pouch or $19 for the sampler set I have
Ingredients: rooibos tea, honeybush tea, natural almond flavor, natural hazelnut flavor, natural caramel flavor
As I mentioned when I reviewed the last magic potions tea, I got a whole set of these, so expect me to review all of them at some point. Felix Felicis is one of my favorite potions in the Harry Potter series because I love the potential it has. So, it’s the next one I’ll review. I got this tea for a friend before, also a sample size, but I don’t see the option to buy individual sample sizes anymore, so I’ve linked the entire set above. So, without further ado, the review.
Opening the tin, the first thing I notice is the bright rooibos. Normally I’m not a rooibos person because I cannot stand when the pieces get into my cup, but I can definitely appreciate how pretty of a tea it is. It’s interesting that the rooibos is blended with the honeybush, but I think it’s a good idea. This tea definitely smells sweet, and the caramel dominates. The smell isn’t very nutty, which is a bit surprising because there’s two types of nuts in this tea, so hopefully those come out in the taste. Overall, nice smelling and a visually appealing blend.
Once again, the caramel is definitely strong in the taste. The rooibos is more of an undertone and the nuts are more of an aftertaste, but it’s a smooth taste overall. It’s brisk and even, if a bit simpler than others. The color is a bit more brown and red than gold, which is a bit disappointing for Felix Felicis, but that’s not surprising with a rooibos included in the blend.
Overall, I think this is a fairly good tea, but I probably wouldn’t buy it without the fandom labeling on it. It’s great for Harry Potter lovers, definitely, but any tea purists or individuals who are less interested in Harry Potter may not like it as much. I do think the tea captures the spirit of Felix Felicis, though, even with the slight color difference, and that the title does fit well. I would probably try honey or brown sugar in this tea, or possibly blend a bit of ginger in.
Thank you so much, I’m glad you like it!
Tea: Roasted Almond Delight from The Great Lakes Tea and Spice Co
Price: $7.95 got 1.6 oz
Ingredients: Apple Pieces, planned and crushed almonds, cinnamon pieces, beetroot pieces, flavoring
This is the first out of three (maybe four) reviews for teas from northern Michigan, because I had a lot of luck with tea shops, surprisingly, while on vacation. This little shop is located in Glen Arbor, a small town near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I ended up choosing a tisane at this shop, because it smelled really good, and it was between this one and Northern Berries, which I’ll probably get eventually and includes bilberries and elderberries which I thought is pretty unique. The almond tea seems more fitting for fall though, so I chose that one.
The tisane’s smell is very strong, and dominated by the nuts. It’s sweet, and the cinnamon is a nice undertone. The apple and beetroot are less present in this tea, and are likely there to balance the strength of the almonds and cinnamon in the taste, and not to be a main part of the tea. I’m surprised, I think this is the second apple and nut tea with beetroot in it that I’ve reviewed. The pieces are large chunks, and look really great because you can see all the little pieces and nuances in the dry mixture.
Steeped, this tea loses a lot of its smell, but makes up for it in taste. The apple flavor is a bit weak, but the almonds create a nice nutty aftertaste. The cinnamon is faint but present, and I can’t really notice any of the beetroot. I like that the sweetness in the smell transfers over in the taste; this tea probably does not need added sugar (although brown sugar might be interesting). The liquid is a faint pale pink hue, but other than that the beetroot is almost invisible.
A note: Looking back on another tea I reviewed in April, Forever Nuts, I realized that these teas have almost identical ingredient lists. However, they possess very different flavor profiles. The other tea was heavily cinnamon based and the beetroot dominated, whereas this one was much more mellow and the nuts shone more. I think this is the better tea of the two.
Overall, I recommend this tea. It would make a good fall tea, and I would be interested to see how it would taste infused into a batch of cookies. It would be nice for the apple to be stronger, but it compliments the almond well how it is. Of course, if you aren’t a fan of tisanes, this might not be the best choice for you, but generally this would be a good caffeine-free drink for the fall.
Tea: Elephant Vanilla Chai from David Rio San Francisco
Price: $8.95 for 14 oz canister or $14.95 for 12 single packets
Ingredients: cane sugar, creamer (coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate [a milk derivative], mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, soy lecithin), honey granules, black tea powder, vanilla, natural spice blend, natural flavors.
Again continuing with my fall tea trend, here’s a tea that literally got me through two weeks without my hot water boiler. I attended a camp on Stanford’s campus and one of their coffee shops offered this tea. The name made me absolutely need to try it, because how often do you have teas named after animals. When I found this tea available in individual cans I was really excited, so of course I have to review it.
Normally I wouldn’t review powdered chai teas, simply because I don’t drink them, but this chai comes in powder form. It actually looks a bit sandy, which is odd. This tea doesn’t state what spices are included, but I’m definitely assuming cinnamon because that’s what this tea smells most like. Obviously there are also notes of vanilla, but it’s a smoother part of the smell. Overall it’s very sweet, almost a bit too sugary, and strong.
When steeping, I added 8 heaping teaspoons instead of 3 tablespoons. Hopefully that won’t affect the taste too much. The mixed liquid is a light brown, akin to the color of coffee with cream. Its taste is much lighter than the smell, and a bit weak. I steeped this in water, but with the creamer already included, it’s fairly thick. A lot of powder collected in the bottom by the time I was finished drinking, and the last few sips were really bitter because of this.
Recommending this is a bit of a tossup for me, because I think it’s a fairly good chai but it has negative aspects (such as the highly chemical sounding ingredient list) that I don’t like. If powdered chais are your thing, definitely try it, but if you’re used to steeping your own chais and spices, this might not be the thing for you. This tea is good both hot and iced, although I didn’t discuss it iced in this review, and is definitely better with milk instead of water. It might be interesting to try this with almond milk, and it does not need sweetener unless you like your tea extremely sweet.
Tea: Chai Town from Adagio’s Chicago Series
Cost: $9 for a 4 oz tin
Ingredients: black tea, cardamom, cloves, ginger, red peppercorn, cinnamon bark, cornflowers, cinnamon flavor
I reviewed another tea from this series awhile back, and meant to review this one but never did. It’s been sitting on my shelf as a gorgeous tin for awhile now, and I haven’t had it in awhile because chais aren’t really my thing in the summer. But with fall approaching, and piles of homework already looming in my foreseeable future, chai tea is going to become a necessity. So, I figured I would review it in advance, that way it’s already there when chai season arrives.
I love a tea where you can see all the components in it. All the bits and pieces are visible in this chai, and it’s great. The colors are nice too, and overall this tea looks like your standard chai. The smell is similar to a potpourri, and the cinnamon and cardamom reign dominant. The cornflowers aren’t really present in the smell, and I suspect they’re more there for looks because the blue is pretty in the blend. I wish the black tea was a slightly larger leaf and less broken, but given the strength of the additives, hopefully it won’t matter.
The smell coming from the steeped tea is insanely strong. The ginger and cloves are most prominent, and the whole smell is very spicy. The color is nothing special, just a very deep brown. So when I first took a sip, I expected it to be insanely strong just based off the smell, but it wasn’t. The tea was soft. While the taste is intricate, the flavors fit each other and are nicely balanced. I’d almost like it a bit stronger, and if I were mixing it with milk I would have steeped it much longer, but it’s still a full flavor and fairly good. The tea itself is harder to taste because the spices are so strong, but with a chai it’s excusable. Overall not bad.
For the price, I think this tea is worth trying. Four ounces may be a lot to get before trying the tea in a smaller quantity, but even if you don’t like it, there will be someone who will who you can give the tea to. At a bit more than $2 an oz, it’s worth a shot. This may not be my favorite chai, but it’s a good balanced one. I think it’s a bit too strong to drink every day, but every once in awhile it’s a good change. This tea would go well with milk, but I think sugar or honey would detract from the spices. A bit of vanilla wouldn’t go amiss, though, if the tea were steeped in milk over a stove.
Tea: Rooibush Cream-Caramel from Tea Gschwendner
Price: $12.50 for 25 tea bags
Ingredients: Rooibos tea, natural and artificial flavor
Due to travel, once again, I’m reviewing another bagged tea. This one is also from Tea Gschwendner (gasp two from the same company in a row), and is a rooibos (although they call it rooibush on the packaging). The photograph was taken immediately after putting the bag inside the water, which is why the characteristic red is not present yet. I’m just happy I managed to get tea during this trip, even though it was usually not the type of tea I could review. Granted, the only reason I did was because I brought my own, but that’s beside the point.
Starting off with the smell again, this reminded me of caramel covered dessert popcorn, oddly enough. It had a slight papery smell, from the bag, but that was acceptable. It was very sweet, and the rooibos was mild and light. There were also some grape notes, which I thought were a bit odd, but intriguing. The leaves were characteristic of a rooibos, and there was nothing else to note about their appearance.
Again, the color was characteristic, and there’s nothing special to note about it. The taste is heavily vanilla. It was a bit too flat, although there was a nice amount of sweetness. I enjoyed the lightness of it. However, there was far more cream than caramel, and other than the smell, the caramel was almost nonexistent. This tea was definitely a cream tea, with an underlying rooibos.
I recommend this, if you’re looking for a bagged rooibos tea, but there are certainly better rooibos teas out there. It’s a bit flat, and could use more caramel, but those don’t necessarily make it a bad tea. I will note that this tea has artificial flavors, and I think I would have liked it more if it did not, because there was a bit of fake-ness in the taste that I think led to its flatness. Overall, it’s just merely okay.
Remember: Behind every cup of tea, there is a person.
Will you treat them fairly?
Remember to buy fair trade tea!
Tea: Darjeeling Pussimbing from TeaGshwendner
Cost: $12.50 for 25 bags
Ingredients: Darjeeling tea
I absolutely adore darjeeling, it’s one of my favorite teas. So, when I was in Chicago and able to pick up some sample tea bags from the TeaGshwendner store (my first time inside after many times I meant to go inside and didn’t have a chance to), I had to get Darjeeling. I’m traveling again, this time to California, so I’m reviewing bagged teas again for a bit.
It’s very fruity, but the smell is a richer fruit smell, and also fairly nutty. I’d say it’s muscatel, like many darjeelings, or like dates, but not quite enough. There’s also a sweet edge to it. The overall smell is very light as well. The tea itself, visible through the bag, is very green colored, more than I expected for a darjeeling. There are black pieces as well, but not nearly as many as I thought there should be.
This tea tastes slightly flat, but it’s an edge characteristic to bagged teas from what I’ve noticed. It’s still slightly nutty, though far less fruity. The overall flavor is a tad weak, though that could just be due to the very short recommended steeping time. It’s not too bitter, but it’s also not sweet, it’s almost a bit bland compared to other darjeelings I’ve had. The liquid is a soft yellow, and neither heavy not light. I do like how smooth it is.
Overall, it’s an okay bagged tea but it isn’t spectacular. I don’t think it’s worth the price, even for a darjeeling. Unlike other darjeelings I have tried, I think a bit of sweetener wouldn’t go amiss, but not too much. This tea is just neither spectacular nor awful, and while I’ll happily drink it, it’s not anything I’d buy more of without looking at other options first.