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Tag: ginger

Sparkle Pony Oolong Tea from 52Teas

My itch to buy teas was a lot stronger last year than this year, but when there’s a sale, it’s hard to resist. It’s especially hard to resist when you visit the 52Teas site — as I did a few weeks ago — and notice that their amazing Cranberry Orange Rooibos is on clearance.

So I made an order to get another 2 ounces of that delicious ambrosia, even though the Canadian/US exchange rate is still in the dumps. Of course, I added a few more blends to my order to make it worthwhile.

When it finally arrived in my mailbox a week ago, I tore the package open to get my paws on what was inside, only to be greeted by a surprise freebie:

52Teas_sparkle_pony_oolong_label

Yes, you are reading that right. Sparkle Pony Oolong tea. With actual sparkles in it, according to the label.

I am nothing if not adventurous, so sure! Why not?

The label says this tea contains oolong, pluots, ginger chunks, crystallized ginger, and edible sparkles. Here’s  how the whole thing looks in real life:

52Teas_sparkle_pony_oolong_leaf

A “pluot” is actually a kind of plum/apricot hybrid (hence the name). That chunk of orange fruit right in the middle of my palm in the photo above is a dried pluot — it looks like a dried apricot, except for being a bit stickier/gummier. The oolong leaves are a brownish green, but not rolled up. Looking closely at them, I wasn’t really able to determine what variety (eg: tie guan yin, da hong pao) served as the base.

Smelling the  leaf didn’t help either, as the most noticeable scent was the ginger — spicy, somewhat sweet and pungent.

I took about 2 teaspoons of leaf and steeped it in 80°C water for 4 minutes, which is slightly longer than what’s recommended on the package, because I’m a really big rebel.

Here’s what the tea looked like after steeping:

52Teas_sparkle_pony_oolong_brew
Taste-wise, the most prominent note was the ginger. Beneath that, there’s a gentle powdery sweetness. This tea made me think of a similar tea I reviewed last year: Tea Leaf Co.’s Soul Good oolong tea. The notes here are very similar – the ginger, the powder, the sweetness. Also like Soul Good, I was expecting this Sparkle Pony Oolong to have a stronger fruit note.

After I steeped the tea, I took the dried pluot, now reconstituted due to the hot water, and popped it in my mouth. The taste was tangy, with the tartness of plums mixing with the chewy texture of apricot. Oddly enough, I’d say that the pieces of pluot, just by themselves, are my favourite part of this tea.

Oh, and there weren’t any visible sparkles that I could see. Maybe they’re all glommed together at the bottom of the bag.

Anyways, this was a fun tea to try, and it introduced me to a new fruit I’d like to encounter again in my cup some day.

Orange and Ginger and Jasmine, Oh My! A Look at Some More Amoda Teas

You might have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. Work’s been pretty hectic, so I was feeling swamped. However, I try not to let that happen too often — I normally have at least have some notes drafted in advance so I can post things at the last minute.

But what do you drink when you’re feeling stressed and super busy? (You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count.)

And what better way is there to unwind than with some jasmine teas? This week’s teas are another set that I bought from Amoda Tea last year at their Black Friday sale. However, as you’ll see, each tea has a twist.

Jestha Jasmine from Nepali Tea Traders

June, or “Jestha” in Nepal, is the month that marks the start of summer, a time when fragrant jasmines are in full bloom. Our premium full leaf green tea is blended with dried jasmine blossoms to create a smooth, sublime cup. Transport yourself to a serene Nepalese tea garden with every sip.

One thing the description above doesn’t mention is that this blend contains orange peel in addition to jasmine. I’ve imagined for a while that orange and jasmine would be a match made in heaven, so when I saw that this tea was part of the Amoda sale, I had to give it a try!

The thing that I was immediately struck by when I first opened the envelope was just how visible the jasmine was in the blend. Mixed in with the dark green strands of leaf and chunks of dried orange peel were whole flowers. Huge! Like this:

nepali_tea_traders_jestha_jasmine_leaf

However, the leaf didn’t smell like the perfumed onslaught I was expecting. Instead, it smelled mild, slightly vegetal, and slightly floral.

This lightness and gentleness held up upon brewing. I took a big heaping spoonful and steeped it for 2 minutes in 70°C water, as directed on the package. I was worried that this would lead to a weak, nothing-flavoured tea, but I was mistaken — the resulting liquid was a pleasing orange-yellow colour that signalled good things.

nepali_tea_traders_jestha_jasmine_brew

And, yup, the taste was just like the dried leaf — mild, gently sweet, and with a texture and softness in the mouth that reminded me of baby powder (in a good way). The jasmine flavour here is wispy and feather-light. Surprisingly pleasant! I didn’t get any orange, but I’m still in love with how gentle the whole thing is.

You can buy Jestha Jasmine Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders here.

Hawaiian Ginger Jasmine from Swan Sisters

We source our Ginger from an organic farm in beautiful Maui and add this to our already fantastic Jasmine Dragon Pearls. A touch of orange peel adds to the exotic flare. Hawaiian Ginger Jasmine also makes a delicious iced tea for Summer.

This is a tea I bought out of a mixture of curiosity and hope. Curiosity because jasmine and ginger are such contrasting flavours, the former cool and gentle and serene, the latter spicy and forceful. Hope because I have heard that ginger can be great for soothing upset stomachs, and I’ve got this weird stomach pain issue that I have yet to confirm a diagnosis for. Would having more ginger teas in my cupboard help?

The jury’s still out on that. However, I can say that combining ginger and jasmine together in a tea is just as unusual as I thought it would be. Here, small chunks of ginger root are mixed in wholesale with the dragon pearls. The description above says the tea also contains orange peel, but either I didn’t see any or I wasn’t able to tell the pieces of peel apart from the chunks of ginger.

swan_sisters_hawaiian_ginger_jasmine

How do I describe the smell of this tea? It’s obviously a combination of ginger and jasmine, but the interplay between the two is so odd. I don’t smell any harmony in this combination — there’s no sense of them being complementary flavours at all. Occasionally the jasmine wins out over the ginger, or vice versa, but overall the mix of sweet, slightly powdery florals and the assertiveness of ginger is, at best, idiosyncratic.

I took about 1.5 teaspoons of dry leaf and steeped it in 85°C water for 3 minutes. The resulting tea was similar in colour to the Jestha Jasmine above, though slightly paler. And like the tea above, the powdery-soft nature of the jasmine was apparent here. But the sweetness and strength of the ginger interfered in a way that’s hard to describe.

I know that there are people that will probably dig this flavour blend, but it turned out to be a hard sell for me.

You can buy Hawaiian Ginger Jasmine from Swan Sisters here.

Intro to Aromatica Fine Teas: Ginger Cream and Peach Ginger Rose

When I buy teas to review, it can sometimes take a few months to get around to tasting them. I’m writing this on Good Friday, but I bought today’s teas from Aromatica Fine Teas waaaay back last year during a Black Friday sale.

So… four months. And I’m still buying tea for future posts.

I didn’t get these two teas from Aromatica Fine Teas themselves, though; I bought them from Amoda Tea, a Canadian tea subscription company that specializes in finding new and unique blends from smaller vendors and bringing them into the limelight. Amoda has some pretty cool stuff available; if I ever manage to get my cupboard under control, I may sign up for their monthly boxes — you never know! In the meantime, these two will be a fitting introduction.

Anyways, on to today’s teas.

Ginger Cream Black Tea

First up is the Ginger Cream blend, a mix of Assam black tea, ginger pieces, and vanilla bean pieces. The dry leaf is pretty true to expectations, and I’m pretty sure I can distinguish the chunks of vanilla bean from the black tea. The ginger pieces look a bit stringy, but that’s okay.

aromatica_ginger_cream_leaf

I’m surprised by how well the vanilla and ginger meld together, smell-wise. They create an aroma that’s soft and gentle, and they blend with the black tea to create a scent that’s actually kind of reminiscent of mocha/coffee. I normally associate ginger with fruity and spicy flavours, so this earthier, sweeter profile is unexpected.

I took a big heaping spoonful and steeped it with a pot of just-boiled water for 3 1/2 minutes. The brewed tea was bit less mocha-like, with the ginger and vanilla flavours becoming more distinct as they wafted towards my nose. Even after only 3 and a half minutes, the tea was a really rich, eye-popping brown.

aromatica_ginger_cream_brew

However, I didn’t taste much ginger or vanilla when I tasted it. The most dominant flavour was the Assam base — brisk, malty, a tad astringent, with a bit of citrusy hint underneath. If you had just given me a mug of this straight-up without letting me know what tea I was drinking, I would have been able to guess that it was an Assam and that it was flavoured, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell what it had been flavoured with. Overall, the brewed tea just tasted like it had a hint of something else added to it.

You can buy Aromatica Fine Tea’s Ginger Cream black tea from Amoda Tea here.

Peach Ginger Rose Black Tea

It’s really interesting to see how the same ingredient can taste so radically different from food to food. Where the Ginger Cream tea had an earthy, subdued note, this blend — containing Ceylon tea, rose petals, ginger pieces, and natural flavours — is punchy, sweet, juicy, and bright-smelling. The most prominent smell of the dry tea is the peach, which is the perfect hit of sunshine on the cold, sleety day that I’m writing this.

aromatica_peach_ginger_rose_leaf

The rose petals are a great addition because they add depth and roundedness to the peach notes without being overwhelming. I can also smell the ginger, but it’s there more as a dry, sharp sparkle on the top. The peach is really the star scent here.

I took a big heaping spoonful, put it into my teapot and let the whole thing steep for 4 minutes. In the end, I got a really robust-looking brew that smelled more strongly of rose than before.

aromatica_peach_ginger_rose_brew

Like the Ginger Cream tea, though, the strongest flavour was the base tea rather than the flavours. However, here, the Ceylon is a very good choice, because it’s generally a bright-tasting kind of leaf with its own inherently fruity notes. As the tea cooled, I could taste more peach, but I was honestly expecting the ginger to show up more than it did. This is quite pleasant, though.

You can buy Aromatica Fine Tea’s Peach Ginger Rose black tea from Amoda Tea here.

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