Books. Tea. Cats. Scribbling.

Tag: jasmine

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.

Four Teas From Mei Mei Fine Teas

I first heard of Mei Mei Fine Teas through Instagram, where I post a lot of tea photos. (What a surprise!) When I found out about them, I got in touch to see whether I could review their teas. Originally they didn’t plan on shipping tea to Canada, but when their shipping options changed, they did indeed send me a free set of samples to review.

I liked the look of their offerings right away. Their packaging is so vibrant!

Mei_Mei_set

Meng Ding Sweet Dew Green Tea

Meng Ding mountain is the birth place of tea cultivation about 1200 years ago in China. Gan Lu was one of the oldest teas in China, and a tribute tea in the Tang dynasty. This is the highest grade Gan Lu consisting of nearly all buds with a very small percentage of one bud with one young leaf. A very fine exotic tea that delivers a sweet, mellow, and refreshing cup.

The dry leaf of this was fine, sage green, densely packed, and covered in white fuzz. The smell was incredibly unusual for a green tea — it smelled sweet and herbal, like lemon verbena or Macedonian/Greek mountain tea.

Mei_Mei_Meng_Ding_Sweet_Dew_Leaf

In fact, the smell was so different that I busted out my flavour wheel to see what I could identify. (That flavor wheel is fancy, but I don’t refer to it often. I really should, though.) Anyways, looking at the wheel, I’d say that the scent was a mix of sage, honey, and dill — really distinctive.

As per the instructions on the website I took a whopping 1 tablespoon of dry leaf and steeped it in 12 oz of 80°C water for one minute. The resulting tea was a pale yellow colour that darkened as it cooled.

The scent was very different from the taste. That herbal element was still there, but while I was expecting something sweet and honeylike, it ended up tasting vegetal (asparagus and alfalfa, I think), with a weird chemical overtone I couldn’t identify. I gave it a second steep at 1.5 minutes and got a tea that tasted sweeter, but still somewhat vegetal and chemical-like. On the second steep, I could see the fine white fuzz from the leaf floating around in the liquid. The second time around, I also noticed a somewhat pleasant, grassy aftertaste.

You can learn more about Mei Mei Fine Tea’s Meng Ding Sweet Dew here.

Meng Ding Yellow Buds

This is the highest grade yellow tea, consisting solely of buds. Once a tribute tea, it is very elegant and sensational, even uncommon to be found in China nowadays. This is the first pluck of the season, has pleasant fragrance, complex flavor and slight sweetness. Yellow tea still contains the same level of theanine as green tea, but with a sweeter and more mellow taste, and doesn’t get bitterness.

I’ve never had a yellow tea before; my understanding is that yellow teas are even less well-known among western tea drinkers than pu’erh is. My Google-fu tells me that yellow tea is processed in a manner similar to green teas, but with a slightly longer oxidation phase.

The dry leaf of the Meng Ding Yellow Buds look like a mix between long yellow grains of rice and leaves from dragonwell (Long Jing) teas — oblong, a bit flat, with a yellow-green cast to them. They smell grainy, a bit vegetal, and a bit sweet. The smell is much milder than the Sweet Dew green tea above.

Mei_Mei_Meng_Ding_Yellow_Buds

I took half of the sample packet (between 3 and 4 grams) and brewed the leaf twice in 85°C water. The first steep was for 1.5 minutes and the second for 2 minutes. The resulting brew both times was a pale yellow colour that reminded me of cornsilk.

The taste during both steeps was consistent — very vegetal and green-beany. Luckily, there was none of that weird “chemical” flavour I noticed with the Sweet Dew green tea, but this wasn’t as bold/forward in the flavour department as the previous tea, either. Mild, not very assuming, and frankly, not very different from many green teas I’ve tried.

You can learn more about Mei Mei Fine Tea’s Meng Ding Yellow Buds here.

Jasmine Snowflake

One of the most famous Jasmine teas from Sichuan, China, this tea has an incredible intense floral aroma complemented by a full-bodied green tea smoothness that lingers in your mouth and nose. A “wow” tea you don’t want to miss.

As soon as I opened the packet of this tea, I knew I was in for a treat: there were beautiful green, fluffy strands of dry leaf mixed in with whole dried jasmine flowers. One rule of thumb for jasmine teas is that the higher-quality stuff uses real flowers rather than jasmine essential oil, so it was really good to see that here. The smell was also lovely: fresh and floral, with a hint of sweetness.

Mei_Mei_Jasmine_Snowflake

Mei Mei’s instructions for steeping this seemed a bit more in line with the typical “western-style” brewing parameters I use: 1/2 to 1 tbsp of leaf in 6-8 ounces of water at 170-180°F water for 1-2 minutes. I ended up going with 1/2 tbsp of leaf in 8 ounces (1 cup) at 80°C. I brewed the leaves twice: once for 1.5 minutes, and then for 2 minutes.

The resulting tea was  a very pale yellow that darkened as it cooled. And yes, the jasmine was really pleasant. There was a sense of sweetness and a long, lingering aftertaste. It felt more “real” than the last jasmine tea I reviewed here. Plus, it stays consistent across steeps: the jasmine flavour is just as strong (without being cloying) on the second steep as on the first.

You can learn more about Mei Mei Fine Tea’s Jasmine Snowflake here.

Organic Sichuan Premium Green Tea

This premium green tea is produced in Gao Xian county, Sichuan province, China. Gao Xian is not just well known for its Sichuan Gongfu Black tea, but also for its high quality green teas. This area borders Yunnan province, is very scenic, mountainous, and with it’s altitude of more than 1000 meters, it enjoys plentiful amounts of fresh clean air.

This is the time of year when things get cold and you want to snuggle up with some hearty, spicy black teas. Green teas are really ideal for spring and summer, when you want something light that rolls down the throat. This tea, though, with its thick body and intriguing scent, is one I could see being a go-to tea for autumn.

Mei_Mei_Sichuan_Green_Tea

The dry leaf of this green tea from Sichuan (a new area for my palate) is dark green bordering on brown/black, dense, and tightly curled, with a dry, sharp look to it. So far, somewhat predictable. But the smell is unlike any other tea I’ve tried. There are the usual vegetal smells of green bean, as well as a deep, dark whiff of honey, but there’s a sharpness to this tea that reminds me of mustard of all things.

Yes: nice and grainy honey mustard. That’s what this tea reminds me of. With maybe a hint of something like dill.

I took 4 grams of this and steeped it in 85°C water for 1 minute. The resulting tea is a dark yellow bordering on a greenish-gold reminiscent of olive oil. The second steep, for 2 minutes, was a bit more golden.

The first steep is sweet, with an undertone of herbs and honey, and an aftertaste somewhat like the “chemical” note of the Sweet Dew tea above, but softer. The second steep is even sweeter, and there’s something fresh and green in the aftertaste that reminds me vaguely of fruit — something fresh and green, but not really tart. Overall, this tea just coats the tongue with softness.

You can learn more about Mei Mei Fine Tea’s Organic Sichuan Premium Green Tea here.

Verdict

Of the four teas from Mei Mei Fine Teas that I tried, my favourites were the Jasmine Snowflake and the Sichuan green tea. Luckily, the Sichuan tea is one of the cheaper ones that Mei Mei offers, so it’s a good starter tea for those looking to experiment. The Sweet Dew tea was interesting, but not that pleasant because of that weird aftertaste. The yellow tea was kinda meh, I have to admit.

Two Flower Teas: Chrysanthemum Purple Tea and Green Jasmine Tea

Sometimes you just can’t be bothered to think of a theme for a tea review, or stick to a tea drinking schedule. (Life is so rough, my poor little darlings, isn’t it?)

In that spirit, today’s just going to be a mish-mash day where I talk about random teas that have had the privilege of joining my cabinet. Interestingly, both of today’s teas are ones that contain flowers. So let’s look at some flower tea.

2015 Yunnan Sourcing “Ying Shan Hong” Purple Black Tea and Snow Chrysanthemum

Our “Ying Shan Hong” cake is a blend of Wild Purple Black tea and Snow Chrysanthemums from Spring 2015. The taste is floral and sweet with a thick burgundy red tea soup that soothes the mouth and throat with a layer of tea and flower oils and tannins.

I’ve never had a purple tea before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I figured it would taste similar to a black tea. The dry tea itself is mixed with dry chrysanthemum flowers and compressed into a dense little cake — the yellow petals of the dried flowers are peeking through the tea itself, giving the cake quite a festive look.

YS_Ying_Shan_Hong_cake

I got this flower tea as part of the monthly swap that my Steepster friend and I have — I send her half of my White2Tea subscription box and she sends me half of her Yunnan Sourcing subscription box. It’s a nice system.

Anyways.

I went with gong-fu brewing for this tea — about 6 g of leaf in my gaiwan, and a teapot of freshly boiled water. I gave the whole thing 5-6 steeps.

I’ve had one or two teas before that tasted like chysanthemums, so I thought I was prepared for this tea. Oh, how wrong I was! The chrysanthemum flavour in this tea is pungent, and medicinal. The tea flavour itself is fairly weak, taking a back seat so that the chrysanthemum can drive. Overall, the tea feels quite thin and dry in my mouth, with a sensation of camphor and cedar being most prominent. The brewed tea was a deep reddish brown, like brandy.

I will say that the spent leaf of this tea looks quite lovely — look at those yellow petals! I don’t consider this tea to be an everyday drinker, but it might be good with some honey when you’re sick.

YS_Ying_Shan_Hong_wet

You can learn more about Ying Shan Hong tea with chrysanthemums here.

Imperial Jasmine Tea from Teasenz

Reserved for the imperial families since the Song Dynasty in 960 AD. All the appeal and flavor of green tea and enhanced by the aroma of jasmine flowers, Emporial Jasmine Green Tea has a subtly sweet taste and blooming fragrance. Light, soft, and perfumy with a delicate mouthfeel.

I’ve had my fair share of jasmine green teas, but I’ve been running fairly low on them in my cupboard, so it was very kind of Teasenz to send me some for free for this review. The dry leaf of this flower tea is a mix of white and pale green strands, but since I couldn’t see any jasmine buds or flowers, I’m assuming that the two weren’t mixed together to create the blend.

I took a heaping spoonful and steeped it in my medium-sized teapot (24 oz) for 3.5 minutes at 85°C. The resulting brew was a clear yellow-orange, nice and healthy.

teasenz-jasmine-green-pour

However, the taste of this tea wasn’t that memorable. The jasmine flavour was thick, but it was a surface-level thickness, without a lot of body underneath. A lot of the time, with really good jasmine, there’s an underlying sweetness that reminds me of oranges or orange blossom, but that secondary flavour wasn’t present here. I’m going to chalk that up to there being no jasmine flowers in the blend.

The green base was quite mild, which I didn’t appreciate — I think that if the base tea had a more intense flavour, it would have competed with the surface-level flavour of the jasmine and overall given it more body.

You can learn more about Imperial Jasmine tea here.

Powered by WordPress | Theme by Anders Norén | Header image by Joanna Kosinska