Earl Grey Lavender (organic)

Today’s tea is Earl Grey Lavender. It is an organic black tea from The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants out of Portland, Oregon.

I received this as a sample in my order in a cute little package with just enough tea for one cup. It is a blend of Ceylon and Chinese black teas, with lavender flowers and Bergamot essential oil. It appears that everything is organic, with the exception of the essential oil. I love that they tell you exactly what kind of tea you’re getting in the blend.

It has a crazy floral aroma, and I am surprised that the lavender smells stronger than the bergamot. However, I shouldn’t be, because I know from my years of perfume blending that citrus notes (in this case, the bergamot) are the top notes, the part of the fragrance that is fleeting. Typically floral notes (the lavender) are middle notes and hang around a while and contain the body, or the “heart” of the fragrance, what you associate with the scent.

It also looks nice, with the lavender flowers scattered throughout. It brews up a nice, hearty cup of tea, with a dark reddish brown color. It is also quite fragrant, with the lavender mingling with the bergamot. It makes a nice, balanced cup of tea with the uplifting bergamot and soothing lavender. I like it. I almost like it more than the Peet’s Earl Grey that I reviewed a little while back. I think I’d like to switch that one out of my rotation and drink this one instead. This is really quite exceptional. It’s a bit different from a traditional Earl Grey with the addition of the lavender, but I think if you’re an Earl Grey fan, you’ll really like this one. They have a few different versions of Earl Grey at The Jasmine Pearl, even a caffeine-free version made with rooibus.

You can get it here: http://www.thejasminepearl.com/Earl_Grey_Lavender_p/1035.htm

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bombay Breakfast (organic)

Today’s tea is Bombay Breakfast. It is an organic black tea from The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants located in Portland, Oregon. They have a store front as well as an online store. An interesting note is that you order tea in bulk by the ounce, with discounts for ordering 4 oz. or more. It’s a great way to sample some teas.

I just got this tea in the mail last night, so I’m excited to try it. I love trying new tea! The ingredients are: Indian black tea, ginger, cardamom, and roses, all of which have been organically grown. Major bonus points for that!

As soon as I open the package I am hit with the cardamom and ginger. A closer inspection picks up the rose in the background, but the spices really stand out. To look at it is as lovely as smelling it. It is flecked with colorful rose petals throughout. Sometimes I worry that when a tea has so much stuff in it that there won’t be room for the tea, and that the tea will be weak. Not to worry. This one brews up a gorgeous dark red brown and has a strong ginger fragrance.

This is good! It’s even good without milk. And I taste the ginger and the cardamom mingling with the rose petals. What an amazing concoction! It’s a very interesting take on Masala Chai, and it’s made for milk and sugar (if you choose the sugar part). The ginger leaves a tingle on the tongue. Adding milk makes it better still.

So it looks like this will be one to add to the Fall/Winter rotation.

You can get it here: http://www.thejasminepearl.com/Bombay_Breakfast_Tea_p/1004.htm

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

French Breakfast

Today’s tea is French Breakfast, and it is a black tea from Mariage Freres, out of Paris, France.

Ah, oui, oui. I purchased a tin of this tea years ago, and then forgot about it until I was given one as a gift a while back. I discovered the French Breakfast tea at Market Hall, because they have little glass jars of the tea out that you can sniff, bless them, and this is the one that caught my attention. This is one of my favorite teas. The fragrance is to die for: malty, sweet, and hearty, as soon as I open the familiar black and cream tin. The leaves are dark brown, flecked with gold. I suspect there is some Assam in there from its malty nature. The description says chocolate notes as well, and I smell the sweetness, but I never would have said chocolate as the descriptive word.

It smells just as heavenly brewed, and I can’t wait to sip on it. It is malty and rich, and it could be had black, but I will add milk. It is the perfect breakfast tea.

This tea is in regular rotation. Well, it was. I’m savoring this cup because this is the last of it, the tin is empty. Horrors! This tea is pricey, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to justify it, given the amount of tea in my cupboard.  I have a couple others from Mariage Freres (how on earth do you pronounce that?), but I don’t like them as well. So I’ll enjoy this last cup on this rainy day. Cheers!

You can get it here: http://www.markethallfoods.com/products.php?product=Mariage-Frères-French-Breakfast

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Irish Breakfast

Today’s tea is Irish Breakfast, and it is a black tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

Irish Breakfast traditionally has Assam tea in it. But funny enough, they don’t drink Irish Breakfast in Ireland, or so I’m told. At least they don’t call it that. However, the U.S. market for Irish Breakfast is large, and it is very popular here. It’s a robust tea meant to be had with milk.

The tea leaves smell malty and slightly earthy, but fresh. I don’t get the hints of citrus and floral notes mentioned on the tin. The leaves are short and choppy with flecks of gold. In the cup it brews up a lovely reddish brown. It looks hearty. The flavor is very strong, and you could definitely stand the proverbial fork in it. I couldn’t drink this without milk.

With milk the tea is very hearty, a definite eye-opener– which is what it’s made for. “Pungent” is what it says on the tin, and I can’t think of a better word. There is a slightly citrusy aftertaste. This is one of my favorite teas, and one that is in regular rotation. If you like a tea that will take the enamel off your teeth, this is a good one. I highly recommend it.

You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=79&cid=1000154

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Earl Grey with Bergamot

Today’s tea is Earl Grey with Bergamot, and it is a black tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

This is the traditional Earl Grey. There are other versions, and Peet’s has one with Lavender that is very smoky. If you picked that one up by mistake (as a friend of mine did), wanting the traditional Earl Grey, you might be disappointed and give it away to a tea-loving friend. Worked out well for me!

So the burning questions of the day are: Who was Earl Grey? What is bergamot?

According to the New Tea Lover’s Treasury, Earl Grey was a Prime Minister in England in the 1830s. However, it is unknown how the tea came about, which is too bad, because I bet it would make a good story. A couple tea companies in England fought over who had the original recipe, and eventually one was bought out by the other, and Twinings maintains that it has the original recipe. It also sells 15 tons of Earl Grey per day. Now that’s a lot of tea! (Pratt, 170-171)

Bergamot is a pear-shaped, citrus fruit grown in the Mediterranean. The oil from the rind is used in perfumery and in Earl Grey Tea. Earl Grey is the first scented (or perhaps more correctly, flavored) black tea that we had here in the West. (Jasmine scented green tea came before, in China).

As soon as I pop open the tin, the famous aroma beckons. The bergamot is pungent, just the way I like it. The tea leaves are dark, with flecks of gold and green.

In the cup, the scent isn’t as strong. Some intensify the citrus flavor and add lemon and drink it black. I prefer it, as always, with milk. It is a medium-bodied tea with a citrus aftertaste. Earl Grey is one of my favorites. It is one that is in fairly regular rotation, and I often order it if I get a cup of tea out. Every company’s Earl Grey is different, so try a few and see which one you prefer. Peet’s makes a good one, but I almost feel like it could have more bergamot oil. I smell it in the leaves, but not as much in the cup, and I use a good amount of tea–two heaping teaspoons/standard size mug. So my verdict is just that: more bergamot, please.

If you like a nice, mellow cup of tea, try this one.

You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=101&cid=1000154

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter Solstice

Hello, today’s tea is Winter Solstice, and it is a blended black tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea. We’re taking another detour from our tasting because this is a seasonal offering and won’t stick around for long. In fact, in years past it has sold out.

It’s a glorious blend of black teas, spices, orange peel and vanilla. I read that it also contains bergamot. It has a warm, inviting fragrance that is perfect for these crisp mornings. In fact, it’s as nice to look at and sniff as it is to drink.

Pictured are the tea leaves and spices before brewing. After brewing the orange peel expands and the leaves turn dark reddish brown with flecks of green. The fragrance is spicy, but not overwhelming. The flavor is very warming, with the spices leaving a tingling feeling on the tongue and the citrus coming through later, as an aftertaste. The spices are not overbearing–this is not a spice tea, per se. The spice mingles with the tea and adds a certain warmth and depth, but not a heavy-handed flavor. This tea could be had without milk, but I add it because I prefer my black tea that way.

All in all, this is a very good tea, one that I’ve been known to hoard so I can have it all year ’round, and not just for the holidays.

Get yours now, while it’s on sale and before it’s gone: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=1705&cid=2003

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Makaibari Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling (organic and fair trade)

Today’s tea is Makaibari Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling. It is an India black tea from Arbor Teas, and it is organic and fair trade. According to the Arbor Teas website, this tea is from the oldest estate in Darjeeling. This is our last India tea before moving on to my favorites, the Breakfast tea blends. It is a darjeeling tea, so even though it is a black tea it is made to drink without milk. We’ll see if I can handle that.

The leaves smell earthy and clean and have a beautiful gradation of color from dark brown to a little bit of green. When brewed, the leaves remain quite green, although dark. It brews up a lovely golden amber in the cup and retains its earthy scent. The taste leaves a tingle of astringency on the tongue, but doesn’t pucker the whole mouth. It is clean and slightly earthy, but leaning on the cleaner side. I’m not up for drinking tea black, so I add milk. The milk washes out the flavor quite a bit and makes me feel like I’m drinking weak tea. Maybe that wasn’t such a great idea. Without the milk, the flavor was quite good. Now…well, I think I’ve made a mess of it. The flavor is too delicate for milk.

So would I add it to my rotation? Probably not. It is a fine tasting tea, and would be good with food, but I really like drinking my tea with milk, and this is clearly not a tea made for milk. Drunk the proper way, however, it’s good. If you like your tea black you will probably like this tea.

You can get it here: http://www.arborteas.com/organic-makaibari-estate-darjeeling-2nd-flush-black-tea.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment