Al-wazah (Swan Tea) Ceylon

4  / 5

I’ve drunk (drank, drunken, dranked? I don’t know, grammar is silly) more of this tea than any other. It’s been my go-to day in, day out, make my brain work a little better source of caffeine. If I do the math right, I’ve gone through just shy of ten pounds of this tea in the last two years. As I mentioned before, Ceylon is one of my favorite types of tea, and this is a great example of that. Smooth, earthy, just a hint of bitterness, it’s what I think of when someone says the word “tea”. It’s maybe not as exciting as some exotic blend or exclusive hand-picked first-flush, but it has a solid flavor plain, with milk, or milk and honey. It’s also the first tea I ever bought that had the tea grading right on the box which I think is cool. Equally important, it costs about $6 for 400 grams (about 14 oz) where I buy it locally. Exotic tea is fun but gets expensive fast.

Bonus: I really like the design of their packaging:

Tea Leaves: Earthy, like fresh cut hay

Region: Sri Lanka 

Brewing: 3-5 minutes @ 212º F.

Purchased: Super Green Market – $16.95 for 3oz*
(It’s also on Amazon)

Goji Berry Green

3.5  / 5

This is another tea from Great Lakes Tea and Spice that I have gotten a few times over the last few years. To be honest, I’ve only had about half of it because it was my wife’s favorite tea for a while. It’s a nice green tea, grassy and mellow, the goji berries add a nice tart fruit taste. It reminds me a little bit of Adagio’s citron green, but with a little bit more floral flavors. Overall it makes a great late afternoon drink. 

Tea Leaves: Citrus, but still grassy aroma
Region: Unknown
Brewing: Heat water until steam just starts to rise, steep for 30 seconds the first time, and one minute the second. (Note: These are the official directions, to be honest though, I brew it like any other green tea, 170-180 degrees, 3-5 minutes. 
Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $16.95 for 3oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

Mackinaw Breeze

4.5  / 5

This week I get to share one of my favorite teas over the past few years: Mackinaw Breeze. It starts off with a base of Ceylon tea, one of my favorite black teas. A lot of times when you get a flavored tea they skimp on the quality of the base tea, but this is a great Ceylon tea. The juniper berries, black currants, and strawberry pieces take that and add a lightness to it with the fruit notes that they provide. You wouldn’t think that you could add three different fruits to a black tea and maintain a good balance, but that’s exactly what this tea does. It smells absolutely amazing. I almost always drink this hot, but I know that a lot of people like it as an iced tea as well. Either way, if you get a chance you should give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Tea Leaves: Delicious berry scent

Region: Sri Lanka 

Brewing: 3-5 minutes @ 212º F.

Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $16.95 for 3oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

A Tea Geek Sabbatical

Wow, it’s been five years!

Five. years.

I feel really old now, probably also because I just had my birthday.

Despite some solid intentions and a few half-hearted attempts, I’ve never made a real push to bring back tea geek: until now! I’ve just finished up a much-needed design upgrade and plan on posting here at least weekly. I’ve even already written and scheduled several posts for the upcoming weeks, so there is no turning back now!

What will I write about? I’ll continue to review teas. This site started as a way for me to try and keep track of new teas. I want to get back to that. Additionally, I want to expand into other kinds of posts, things that might be useful to a wider audience. What does that mean? I have some ideas, but even I haven’t narrowed it down exactly. Stay tuned, and if you have some feedback, I’d love to hear from you.

-Brent

Persian Peach White

4  / 5

My biggest complaint about white tea is that they can be too subtle, and in the worst case, almost tasteless. Not so with this tea, which has become my favorite white tea. The peach aroma leads to a pleasant taste which matches. The tea provides a good base (silver needle and some other white tea), while the peach and citrus flavors shining through. Complimenting without overpowering.

Tea Leaves: Pleasantly strong floral peach aroma

Region: Unknown

Brewing: 5-7 minutes @ 180º F.

Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $19 for 1.5oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

Tea Review: Bai Mudan

First Impressions: Large brittle leaves, sweet grassy smell

Region: Fujian Province, China

Purchased at Samovar – $19 for 1.5oz when reviewed

Review:
A very delicate but flavorful white tea, this tea has a really smooth sweet aftertaste. Not nearly as grassy as I would have guessed based on the smell of the dry leaves. This would be a good first white tea to try if you are used to something a little darker. It shows of white tea’s high points without suffering from the lack of flavor they sometimes can have.

Rating: 3.5  / 5

Tea Review: Wuyi Dark Roast

Name:  Wuyi Dark Roast

Type:  Oolong

Region: Wuyi mountains in Fujian, China

Bought At:  Samovar

Price:  $21 for 2oz

First Impressions:  Dark Leaves, Roasted, Earthy Smell

Review:

Has it ever been a while since I have tried to review tea! This is part of a large tea order I bought from Samovar a while ago, so look for some more reviews coming soon. Wuyi Dark Roast is a different kind of oolong tea than any I have had before. It is dark and has a roasted scent and flavor that is usually found in black teas. Along with that it has a sweetness that is more similar to a greener oolong. It makes for a nice combination, a light tea that still has a full flavor. Definitely worth a try.

My Rating:

4  / 5

A Tea Geek Wedding

You may have noticed that there haven’t been too many reviews lately, like any, at all. I have a good excuse, honest!  Last October, I got engaged and started planning our wedding.  The big day was June 30th, 2012 and it went great. Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of time to write about tea, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drinking it!

One of the things that was most important to both my new wife and myself was that our special day reflected ourselves more than any traditions or customs. We wanted it to be OUR wedding. One of the first things I thought about was trying to incorporate tea into the event.  Along those lines, Teavivre graciously agreed to help us out by providing some tea to help make our day special, and we are both very grateful.  We ended up using the tea in two places, as the wedding favor and on a special “tea table” at the reception.

Continue reading “A Tea Geek Wedding”

Tea Review: Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess”

Name:  Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess”

Type:  Oolong

Region:  Anxi, Fujian, China

Bought At:  Teavivre.com

Price:  $10.50 for 3.5oz

First Impressions:  Tightly compacted, very green leaves

Review:

It has been a little while since I have had any oolong teas, so it was nice to have one again.  This “Iron Godess” tea has a bright, leafy, almost floral aroma, and brews to a very vibrant yellow color.  It has a very mellow but still pronounced green tea taste, but it has a heaviness  to it that distinguishes it from a green. A very good tea, I can see this filling the gap between wanting more flavor than a green but not the caffeine of a black.  Overall, it had everything I would look for in a oolong tea.

My Rating:

4  / 5

brent

*Disclosure (And Thanks!): This was part of a free sampler I got from teavivre

Tea Review: White Peony (Bai MuDan)

Name: White Peony

Type:  White

Region:  Fuding, Fujian, China

Bought At:  Teavivre.com

Price:  $5.90 for 1.75oz

First Impressions:  Large leaves, grassy, sweet smelling dry leaves

Review:

I was anxious to try this as I have liked white peony teas in the past and was curious to see how teavivre‘s would stand up to them;  I wasn’t disappointed. It is a warm, smooth tea that has a lot of flavor. It is not quite as naturally sweet as some other white tea varieties.  That isn’t a bad thing though, as it has a buttery, grassy complexity that a lot of white teas lack.  Something you are more likely to find in a green tea then a white.  This tea is forgiving to over brewing, which is great for a forgetful person like me, and stands up well for many infusions. I have been making it when I get to work and brewing it several times throughout the morning. This one also came in a fun little one-use package, I know it’s silly, but I love it!

My Rating:
3.5  / 5

brent

*Disclosure (And Thanks!): This was part of a free sampler I got from teavivre