Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tea Review 133 - Le Palais des Thés Tamaryokucha Imperial

Tamaryokucha Imperial
Le Palais des Thés

It's probably not a good idea to generalize, in general, but if I may be so bold, I've noticed that most Chinese green teas tend to be on the subtle and delicate side while Japanese greens are often more boldly flavored. It's been a while since I've had a good Japanese green but I was reminded of this notion recently when I tried Le Palais des Thés's Tamaryokucha Imperial.

Le Palais des Thés claims that this tea is milder than most Japanese green teas, which I don't completely agree with. I found it to have a fairly full flavor, but perhaps without the deep green common to many of Japanese teas. If you're wondering how green can be used to describe the flavor of a tea then you need to drink more Japanese green tea.

In any event, in spite of the full flavor and a little bit of a sharp edge I found this one to be more than quite drinkable. Here's what Le Palais des Thés has to say about it:

A remarkable green tea whose leaves are twisted, rather than folded like the Sencha teas. This intensifies its dark green color, which is a sign of high quality in this type of tea. It is milder than most Japanese green teas, with a silky, subtle liquor and a fragrant infusion.

Sample provided by Le Palais des Thés
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tea Review 132 - Teavivre Chun Mei & Taimu Maojian

Organic Taimu Maojian Green Tea
Chun Mei Green Tea


Once upon a time I tended to prefer Japanese green tea just a bit more than Chinese green. I would say that the balance has shifted over the years and I'm now a bit fonder of the Chinese greens. To the best of my recall I don't have any previous experience with either of these varieties but they're both worth a look.

I found that I was especially fond of the Taimu Maojian. It's much lighter and more delicate than the Chun Mei but still quite flavorful. I'd have no problem putting a tea like this one into regular daily rotation. Here's an excerpt from Teavivre's blurb:

This premium grade, 100% organic Taimu Maojian Green tea comes from Mt. Taimu in Fujian, and is made using traditional methods. It has a great taste, that combines a slightly sweet, delicate green tea taste with a hint of chestnut aroma and flavour. Maojian means “fluffy tips” in Chinese, which describes its appearance perfectly – this tea has a fine covering of white hairs that indicates its high quality.

I liked Chun Mei as well, but not quite as much as the Taimu Maojian. It steeps to a much a darker color in the cup and has a much more robust flavor, with perhaps just a hint of smokiness in there somewhere. This one was reminiscent of a milder variety of gunpowder tea. If you're fond of that sort of thing then this should be right up your alley. Teavivre has this to say about it:

Chun Mei – sometimes called Zhen Mei – is the most popular type of “eyebrow tea” in China, so named because when dry it's narrow, curved shape looks like a fine, painted on eyebrow. The traditional local drink of Anhui, it is also now widely grown in Zhejiang, Jiangxi provinces.

An earthy, slightly bitter tea with a plum aftertaste

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Tea Review 131 - Peter Asher Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Peter Asher Coffee & Tea

I'm not much of a fan of flavored tea, but there are a few exceptions. Those flavored teas I do like typically start with a decent black tea as a base. For me there are certain flavors - mostly a few of the fruity ones - that work well with black tea. One of the ones that springs to mind off the top of my head is peach.

Peter Asher's Prairie Sunrise doesn't contain any of that, but it does claim to be flavored with a mix of berries, vanilla, rhubarb and guava. I didn't taste any vanilla, but that might just be a failing of my coarse palate. As for "berries," that leaves it a bit open to speculation and I'm not familiar enough with rhubarb or guava to know how much they're contributing to the overall total.

But it works. I don't like this one enough to drink it on a regular basis, but I could probably say that for any flavored tea. That's just my own bias talking, but I'd say that if you're looking for a nice lightly flavored black tea this is a good one to go with.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tea Review 130 - Le Palais des Thés Darjeeling

Darjeeling Puttabong F.T.G.F.O.P. (Second Flush)
Le Palais des Thés

I'm never one to waste an opportunity to sing the praises of black tea. But I have to admit, at the risk of offending a phalanx of tea connoisseurs, that Darjeeling is among my least favorite of all the black teas.

Which is an odd way to start out a tea review, I suppose. But even though I wasn't impressed with Le Palais des Thés's Darjeeling Puttabong at first, I found it growing on me the more I drank it. For me Darjeeling is probably never going to measure up to a great Assam or Keemun, but that's just a matter of personal taste. If you're a fan of Darjeelings I suspect that you'll like this one quite a bit.

Here's what Le Palais des Thés has to say about this one:

A prestigious estate and of one of the oldest in Darjeeling, famed for its tippy flushes. The second flush produces a dark infusion and an amber liquor with depth and a lot of body. Its unique full-bodied and woody flavor makes it an ideal Matin tea.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Tea Review 129 - Stash Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning Black Tea
Stash Tea

At first glance Stash's Christmas Morning seemed like a bad idea. Just as too many cooks are said to spoil the broth I couldn't help thinking that too many teas might just tend to spoil the blend. So much for that theory.

Christmas Morning is billed as a black tea. According to Stash it actually contains a mix of four types of black tea, including Assam, Darjeeling, Yunnan, and Keemun. If that wasn't enough there's apparently also some Formosa Oolong mixed in and some jasmine green tea.

Which sounds like a great big mess but it's actually quite good. In spite of the oolong and green, the dominant note here is definitely black tea. I couldn't quite pick out which, if any, of the black varieties dominated but it was a very smooth, flavorful drinking experience all the same. I tried the loose-leaf variety but as you can see from the accompanying image, it's also available in tea bag form.

Here's some of what Stash has to say about this tea:

Each tea component adds a distinctive flavor note. Indian Assam imparts a malty and hearty flavor; the Formosa Oolong adds bright, fruity flavor notes; the China Keemun, a hint of smokiness; our first flush Darjeeling, a flowery note; richness from the Yunnan and Nilgiri black teas; and the jasmine green tea imparts a lingering, sweet fragrance.

Overall, this breakfast tea is a rich, multi-layered drink that is sure to pick you up in the early morning. The smooth liquor of this tea showcases its bright and complex flavor. Christmas Morning is a great balance of brisk and sweet. Full-bodied and with a lovely aroma, this tea is a new and interesting take on traditional breakfast teas like English and Irish Breakfast. Enjoy it hot or iced, with milk and sugar or plain.

Sample provided by Stash Tea
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

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(from a press release)

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tea Review 128 - Le Palais des Thés Qimen Hao Ya

Qimen Hao Ya
Le Palais des Thés

Every time I try another variety of the Chinese black tea known as Qimen, or Keemun, it moves up higher in my ranking of favorite teas. This Qimen Hao Ya from Le Palais des Thés is perhaps slightly less smoky than the last Hao Ya I reviewed, from Teavivre, but it was just as smooth and flavorful and I was just as sorry to see the sample packet dwindle.

Le Palais des Thés doesn't have a lot to say about this tea. Here is the info from their Web site:

Like Qimen Imperial, this tea grows on Huang Mountain. The tea from this excellent flush has a delicate, slightly chocolaty, taste. A subtle tea for the late afternoon.

Sample provided by Teavivre
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