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Tea Review: Clint Barton Blend

barton_tea2

Clint Barton

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

A slightly playful blend that may be hard to take very seriously, but will prove to be strictly business when under fire.

Based on characters owned by Marvel/Disney. This tea blend is created purely for my own enjoyment.

My Review

It is difficult to define the initial aromatic impressions of this tea upon first opening the bag (and even upon the second time, when I opened the tin.) The freshness of the lemongrass is the most immediately dominant feature of this tea, with some traces of ginger. The assam melody and gunpowder lend a subtle depth to the scent, but it is the lemongrass that impresses the most heavily.

I have had two cups of this tea now, trying to formulate my thoughts on it. I steeped a heaping teaspoonful of the blend at 212 degrees for four minutes the first time, five the second. I did not notice a difference in intensity, so perhaps I should try longer and shorter times to see if that affects anything. barton_tea1

The flavors are clean and crisp and somewhat invigorating, the bite of ginger tempered to a fractional sharpness. I know the Thai Chai descriptions states that there are two different coconut elements in the mix, but I fear they may be eluding me. Of course, on the second cup I had the brilliant idea of aerating mouthfuls of tea to see if I could better differentiate the flavors, but that resulted in a burnt tongue which undoubtedly impeding my tasting abilities. Still, as I sit and take deep inhales of the steaming cup, I can just perceive the coconut notes, which add an almost milky smoothness when drinking. Though there is no aftertaste to speak of, the potency of the ginger and cardamom builds over time, leaving a rather refreshing sense on the palate.

Overall, I cannot escape the impression of crispness. It smells like it should be much more herbal, which I think is the lemongrass’ influence. As the tea cools, it does not get bitter, and the ginger notes really come to the forefront. It makes me wonder how this blend will fare iced. I have the feeling that the lemongrass, ginger, and coconut flavors will really shine through.

Even with the inclusion of assam melody and gunpowder (which can honestly overpower other flavors if the balance isn’t right, such is its flavorful strength,) this is a surprisingly light, refreshing tea, great for a summer afternoon.

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I give it 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Irish Breakfast Blend

Official Description:

Irish Breakfast

A combination of hearty black teas from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Assam (India) to get your morning off to a bright start. As its name implies, Irish Breakfast tea is an ideal accompaniment to a morning meal. It seamlessly blends the citrusy notes of a high-grown Ceylon with the malty underscore of a pungent Assam. Spicy and jammy aroma on the leaf, malty and deep flavor with a brisk and ‘buzzy’ mouthfeel. Rounded sweetness in the finish. May be enjoyed plain or with a drop of milk. Irish Breakfast is one of Adagio’s most popular teas.

BLENDED WITH CEYLON SONATA TEA AND ASSAM MELODY TEA

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My Review

The Ceylon Sonata proves the strongest notes upon first exposure, though the Assam Melody is inextricably woven in, a bold one-two punch of black tea. Quite a bit of headiness remains in the scent even after steeping, but it is a nice, strong, wake-me-up kind of thing. Likely my own predilections, but the most immediate thought upon breathing in the aroma was, “I bet this would be awesome with milk.”

As with other Irish Breakfast blends I have tried, the flavor is quite robust when taken black. As I have mentioned before, I am a fan of hefty black teas, and this Irish Breakfast blend absolutely fits the bill. The heartiness of this tea really does bring to mind the urge to add milk and a little sugar, I don’t know why. The blend is smooth, though this is an old bag that had been opened ages ago so it is very possible that the potency might be reduced a bit, but still enjoyable, nonetheless. However, there isn’t really anything that stands out to me about this blend; while I would enjoy it at any given time or inclination, I imagine I would rather go for the English Breakfast or Afternoon blends first. Still, it is an excellent cup and my opinion may improve when I next try it with milk and sugar (I am most likely going to do that this evening, actually. Or….maybe tomorrow….)

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars, because I really wouldn’t say no to a cup if you offered it to me.You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Earl Grey Bravo

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Earl Grey Bravo

A classic blend of premium black tea from Sri Lanka, flavored with bergamot (a citrus fruit). The perfect afternoon tea: zesty and exhilarating fresh citrus aroma, slightly dry to the nose, with a rounded and balanced orange rind flavor to match the tang of the Ceylon. Pleasantly dry finish with lingering citrus sweetness.

BLENDED WITH BLACK TEA, ORANGE PEELS, NATURAL BERGAMOT FLAVOR AND BLUE CORNFLOWERS

My Review

This Earl Grey Bravo really zings you with the citrusy tang when you first inhale its aroma. The addition of orange peels increases the zest, I am sure. Earl Grey has always been very distinctive and strong to me in terms of scent and taste, so I am always careful about steeping times. The bergamot can end up especially overpowering, and if oversteeped I find the tea in turns bitter and astringent.

Right when the electric kettle got to boiling, I turned it off and poured the water into my ingenuiTEA containing one teaspoon of Earl Grey Bravo. I let the approximately 14 ounces of water steep for just about 3 minutes before pouring my cup. The citrus aroma decreases considerably, though the taste is still quite distinct from any other tea. The flavor is eg2smooth and rich but still strong. For me, I am not certain that this is a tea that I would indulge in every day. I found this blend to be far less astringent than others, but perhaps that is more due to my careful preparation than how I usually am with bagged versions. I will admit that I can get awfully lazy about that.

I do feel like I need to find and eat (or just….inhale a lot of) some blue cornflowers so I can figure out exactly what flavoring it adds. Has anyone ever seen French Kiss? I’ve always wanted to make a box like the one Kevin Kline had, full of bottles containing different herbs and berries and other natural things that influence the growth of grapes in vineyards. I rather think it’d be the same for tea – knowing the different flowers and leaves that are added to tea blends to create such unique flavors. Perhaps when I have more time, and some disposable income to buy a box and a ton of bottles.

I gave this blend 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea House Review: The Sussex Teapot

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Afternoon Tea at The Sussex Teapot

I have a soft spot for The Sussex Teapot.  I cannot say it serves culinary masterpieces, but that is not why I go. I had visited here before with a friend over a year ago and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, I moved out of the area (far, far out of the area,) and so I hadn’t had another opportunity to go back. Last week I found myself staying down the street from The Sussex Teapot so I set up tea time with a friend one afternoon. sussex3

There is something infinitely comforting in the quaint decoration of the tea room. The Sussex Teapot is attached to the Shamrock & Thistle British/Irish Grocery & Gift Shop. Founded by some Brits (hailing from East Sussex and Yorkshire,) the room has an unassuming, homey feel without that overwhelming sense of kitsch you find in other places that are clearly trying too hard. Sure, there are fake plants round the top of the room, antique signage, and the wallpaper isn’t something I’d ever have in my own home (probably) but it all works together quite well in a relaxed, cozy fashion. If you are looking for modern flash and style, this is not the place for you. There is a fantastic normality to this place, as if you would find a shop just like it on any street corner.

I was the first to arrive, so I started out with a pot of the house tea while I waited. The Sussex Teapot serves PG tips brand tea as their house tea, though you can request other brands or blends. According to PG tips’ website, in the UK, roughly 150 million cups of tea are consumed daily, with around 35 million of those being PG tips. That is a lot of tea. PG tips uses the top two tips and the bud of tea plants to make their tea. Their recipe is a closely guarded secret, I guess, because when I tried to look up exactly what kind of blend it is, I came up empty. Its flavor is most like a traditional English Breakfast Blend (or possibly an Afternoon Blend – I’d have to try one to see since I can’t remember the last time I had it) and is excellent black or with a bit of milk and a sugar. I let the pot sit for just about three minutes before pouring myself a cup. I tend to always have it with milk and sugar when I am at tea, I cannot explain why. I really love the delicate teaware.

My friend arrived, and we discussed the menu options. I appreciate the fact that their menu is rather specific; it ensures a consistent level of quality in both food and service. I suggested the High Cream Tea option (because I like to eat), though perhaps next time I have tea with her I’ll opt for the Afternoon Cream Tea option since I ended up eating one of her sandwiches. With the High Cream Tea, you get unlimited tea (this goes without saying, really,) soup of the day, tea sandwiches, side salad, crisps, and fresh scones with homemade jam and cream (usually Devonshire, sometimes clotted. Thinking about it right now makes me want a scone with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam, actually. Sigh.) I warned her that this option had quite a bit of food, but she went for it, anyway.

sussex4The soup du jour was split pea, a surprisingly thick, rich affair of pureed peas and chunks of ham. I do not often have split pea soup so I cannot really compare it to any other establishment’s, but I found it delicious and more filling than expected. I was kind of starving that afternoon, so there’s that to consider.

Following the soup came the sandwiches, crisps, and salad. With one slice wheat and one slice white for each sandwich, I selected salmon and cucumber and my friend chose the coronation chicken. My goodness, try the coronation chicken. It was a delightful blend of a kind of chicken salad gently curried and slightly sweet with raisins. Next time I am absolutely getting that as my sandwich. The flavors were fantastic. sussex5

Thus far, one pot of tea had already been consumed and our server was fairly good about checking up on us. I will say, whenever I go to tea, I allot a couple of hours for it. I see it as a time to sit back and enjoy conversation, to relax and live unhurriedly, even if just for a little while. With a new pot of tea, still-warm scones were brought out; one plain, the other made with raisins and orange zest. Homemade strawberry jam and Devonshire cream accompanied the scones. Needless to say, I consumed it all (yes, even the strawberry in the picture above.) Apparently I prepare my scone in the traditional Devon fashion: first cream, then jam. Though sometimes I will prepare jam first, in which case this is in the Cornwall tradition. Who knew?

After finishing the scones, we sat and had a little more tea and a lot more conversation. It really was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon with a friend, and I hope I’ll be down in the area again soon for another trip to The Sussex Teapot.

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Tea Review: Precious White Peach White Tea

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Teavana Precious White Peach White Tea 

Official Description from the Teavana website: 

This pure and delightful peach medley blends sweet dreams with white tea, soft herbs and a delicate fruity flavor for an aromatic calmness that seeps into your night. Warm, light blossoms of Roman chamomile, sunflower petals, lemon myrtle and rosehips create a blush of herbs for hush-filled nights of comfy, peachy sweetness.

Fruity, softly sweet and fragrant with delicate floral undertones

My Review

So, impressions on this tea….. I used my ingenuiTEA to brew a heaping teaspoonful at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This tea is almost cloyingly sweet when you first open the tin; it is the sweetest-smelling tin of any teas I currently possess (though, to be fair, I haven’t opened my birthday mix sample from Adagio so that might end up being sweeter.) So, if sweet, fruity teas aren’t your thing, you may need to pass on this.

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The water turns a very lovely rose color. This is a tea you shouldn’t steep for too long as the sweetness gets heavier and goes into bitterness; I’d say no more than four minutes. Of course, if you like it like that, feel free to do what you will. It’s your tea! Do what you want.

Once brewed, the aroma is still very, very sweet-smelling and fruity, while managing to somewhat elude me with what kind of fruit exactly. It does smell peachy, but honestly, it just smells more sweet to me than anything. The whole thing evokes a calming feeling, and that’s probably due to the inclusion of the Roman chamomile. This would probably be fantastic iced, so I really should try that next time.

The flavor fills your mouth pleasantly, and for all the strength of its scent it isn’t so bad once you drink. That said, I don’t know that anyone would really need to add anything to this tea – I’ve had many, many cups and never once felt the need to add anything. The initial punch of sweet flavor isn’t overpowering, and it is easy to drink several cups in a row and not feel ill in that way one can sometimes become when one has had too much sweetness. It is a surprisingly relaxing blend. You can get a sense of the rose hips and chamomile, and some other herbs just under the surface of flavor, but I can’t seem to identify (perhaps now that I’m really thinking about it, they will come to me later.) I haven’t had much white tea before, so it’s been a novel experience. I think I rather like it.

I gave this tea 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Birthday Blend

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Birthday Tea

CREATED BY: CHRISTINE RILLO

A treat for any day of the year! A tasty blend of vanilla, cream, and a touch of caramel. The inclusion of rainbow sugar sprinkles adds a festive note and makes this tea perfect for celebrating your special day.

I remember back in elementary school, when it was your birthday you could treat your fellow classmates to a snack. There were doughnuts, candy, cookies, and of course cupcakes. You were everyone’s favorite person in the world if you brought cupcakes in for your birthday! This blend harkens back to those simpler birthdays- great with a little sugar or alongside a cupcake :) Enjoy!

ingredients:
vanillacreamcaramel

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My Review


The vanilla strikes first when you open the bag, with an undertone of cream and faint notes of caramel adding some depth to the aroma. I kept sniffing the bag (wow, that could be taken out of context right there) because I couldn’t quite figure out how best to describe the layering of scents. This same complexity is present in the tea once you brew it.

I steeped a heaping teaspoonful at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for four minutes. The creaminess really complements the flavors of the black tea and enhances the vanilla and caramel without over-sweetness. It’s almost like I added milk and sugar, except that I didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised that this tea wasn’t too sweet, and I really enjoyed it.

I ought to try a few more cups, but so far, I quite like it, and I don’t think I’ll need to add milk or sugar at all (but I will most likely try it, just to see.)

I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Everyday Tea

 

clipper2  clipper1

Over the weekend I was introduced to a British tea brand called Clipper. A good friend told me that it was her favorite tea, even over loose-leaf teas, so I was terribly intrigued. Though I usually prefer loose-leaf teas, I will certainly drink bagged teas. It was what I first started drinking, after all. If a tea is good, it is good, bagged or loose.

From the website:

A bright and robust tea that delivers a full bodied flavour, great for your first cup and all through the day. Blended from fine FAIRTRADE certified estates in India, Africa and Sri Lanka.

My Review

I first tried a taste of the Fairtrade Everyday Tea with nothing added – it was a smooth, unassuming black tea, aptly named. It was also quite hot at 212 degrees and steeped for about 5 minutes. My friend was doing the steeping, so I didn’t have control over that. I would have finished the cup without any additions, but my friend recommended adding a dash of milk and a teaspoon of honey, so that is what I did.

She had also offered trying it with coconut milk, so I did, but it was a very different taste and I am still not entirely sure I liked it. The milk and honey additions, however, I loved. The honey added sweetness and really brought out the flavor of the black tea, and the milk gave it a slightly creamy aspect, providing a nice, substantial feeling. Seriously, I could drink a lot of tea like this.

I give this tea 5 out of 5 stars. I think it is absolutely a tea you could drink every day after (or honestly, during) work, or well, anytime, really. You can browse their other tea options here, or purchase their Fairtrade Everyday tea here.

And yes, I did sign up to become a tea taster. Because, well, really. How could I not? Also, I want to become a Clipper Sipper. Because it would be awesome and I would get to discover more tea blends.

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Tea Review: Moriarty Blend

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moriarty blend

created by: Cara McGee

Spicy Chai backed by more ginger. Guaranteed to burn the heart out of you. Because that’s what people BREW.

Inspired by BBC’s Sherlock, which I am in no way affiliated with. This is created purely for my own enjoyment.

ingredients:
gingermasala chai

My Review

The first thing I noticed upon opening the bag was the spicy cloves. I love the warm, peaceful nostalgia the scent of cloves evokes. As with all initial tastings, I tried the first cup plain. I steeped a heaping teaspoonful at 212 degrees for about four minutes. I watched the color deepen in my ingenuiTEA until it tea reached an aesthetically pleasing rich cinnamon shade. Pouring it into my cup, the scent of cloves diminished significantly.

The first mouthful was replete with the spicy bite of the cloves, cardamom, and ginger, followed by the warmth of cinnamon, and lastly, a mild aftertaste. The spice of this tea burns pleasantly, lingering, an almost physical feeling of having bitten into ginger. (I must confess I rather adore ginger, so I quite enjoy this.) I tend to inhale deeply before each drink, sort of wakening my olfactory senses and tastebuds. I really do love the spicy warmth of this tea.

As mentioned before, I tried the first cup plain. The second cup I brewed in the same manner, and then added one packet of stevia and a healthy splash of milk. As it ought to, with masala chai as a main component, the blend does fantastically with the additions and the cloves seem to be kicked up a notch in potency. I feel this would be an excellent tea for winter holidays and festivities.

I give it five out of five stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: TARDIS Blend

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tardis blend

created by: Cara McGee

Tastes bigger inside the cup [Ethereal earl grey and enchanting black berry with notes of vanilla]

Inspired by BBC’s Doctor Who, which I am in no way affiliated with. This is created purely for my own enjoyment.

My Review

When you open the bag (or tin, as the case may be,) this blend smells just like a blueberry muffin. I’ve made muffins using the Duncan Hines Blueberry Muffin mix (when feeling too lazy to make them from scratch,) and the tea reminds me of that. Which I suppose is kind of funny as there aren’t any blueberries in the ingredients, so… Hmmm.

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This is an excellent, fruity tea without being too sweet. As I mentioned above, this first cup I’ve tried plain, and it is absolutely fantastic as is. I steeped a heaping teaspoon in my ingenuiTEA at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4 minutes (again, I enjoy my teas strong.) The scent diminishes noticeably after brewing, so I was wondering if it would taste as sweet as its unsteeped aroma promised.

The Earl Grey Bravo proves the strongest initial flavor (you can taste the citrusy tang of the bergamot and orange rind,) with a pleasant blackberry undercurrent throughout, and a mild vanilla finish that leaves a faintly sweet essence in the mouth without any aftertaste. That zesty bravo creates a rather fresh, expansive feeling, and I could easily drink quite a lot of this tea without any qualms.

I give this blend 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Bruce Banner Blend

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bruce banner

created by: Cara McGee

A calming tea on the surface, but with an overwhelming green force brewing below.

Based on characters owned by Marvel/Disney. This tea blend is created purely for my own enjoyment.

My Review

So I had a rather stressful afternoon dealing with the frankly terrible writing of a ridiculous client and I thought I needed something calming.

Right out of the bag the scent is soothing, and I really enjoyed the blooms opening up while brewing in my ingenuiTEA. banner_tea2Visually appealing: check. I let it steep for about 5 minutes.

What can I say about this tea? No one flavor particularly stands out; rather, it’s a nice, mellow blend of the greens and chamomile and it is just such a relaxing thing. I had many a cup after that particular afternoon dealing with that client, and my internal ragemonster was pacified.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

You can buy it here.

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