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sowmee white teaAs the seasons change we often alter many of life’s habits. Many hibernate during the cold winter months while others venture out into the frigid temperatures and brisk winds. Others vie for the glow of the sun, basking in its warmth. While others seek the solace of Spring rains with its temperamental nature. The one thing that doesn’t change is the ability to steep and enjoy a cup of tea. Year-round, I drink hot tea rarely venturing into the world of iced teas. Even in 95 degree weather, I can be found with a cuppa tea in hand, enjoying the flavor, smelling the leaves and attempting to discern the nuances that make a oolong different from a white tea. Today’s choice for examination… Sowmee White Tea.

Composition: Chinese white tea leaves plucked during late April, May and June.

Dry Visual: A beautiful display of light and dark green leaves as well as red, brown and yellow. I am reminded of a pile of freshly raked leaves in the Fall – some broken and some whole, flat and not curled or twisted.  Stems and some tips are present. Thanks Tropical Tea Company for the picture.

Dry Aroma: Surprisingly fruity.

Flavor:  I found Sowmee White Tea to be delightful. Very flavorful from start to finish, which is typically uncharacteristic for white teas,  as they tend to be delicate and mild.  Sowmee is considered a lower grade white tea, however, the flavor does not suffer from this fact.  For lack of a more descriptive term, I found Sowmee to be slightly nutty, naturally sweet, and definitely fruity.

Sowmee White tea has little to no astringency, therefore, sweetener is not required. While flavorful I would not recommend adding a sweetener as it may alter the flavor profile in a not so pleasant way.

Liquor: A golden yellow hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Sowmee White Tea is 2 – 3 minutes in 190 degree water.  I steeped for 3 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Tropical Tea Company

Caffeine: Yes.

 I have to thank my June Co-Op Tea Swap partner for sharing this treasure with me.  If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of Sowmee White Tea, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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Picture 3Although not the subject of today’s review, I’ve been drinking Hojicha, a deliciously roasted bancha.  In actuality, I’ve been drinking a lot of tea, just not writing about it. Sometimes, it is wonderful to sip a cup of tea simply for pleasure. To allow the warmth of the cup to warm my hands. The steam of the brew to tickle my nose. The smoothness of the liquor to soothe my throat, while being stimulated by the amazing flavor.

Nevertheless, today’s review will focus on Euphoric… 

Composition: 2nd Flush, single-estate black tea from Darjeeling, India.

Dry Visual: Dark brown almost black broken tea leaves with bits of red and green leaves. Stems and some tips are present.  Thanks Earthbound Tea for the picture.

Dry Aroma: An earthy, somewhat woodsy aroma.

Flavor:  I found Euphoric to be a very flavorful tea from beginning to end.  The flavor profile combined a maltiness in the middle with a fruity finish.  The first thing that came to mind was berries – blueberries, blackberries, etc.

Initially, I began my tasting of Euphoric pure – with no sweetener added. As typical of Darjeeling teas, I found Euphoric to be astringent. During a later tasting,  I added just a little sweetener to round the flavor, however one could easily add milk as well. Euphoric is robust enough to stand up to milk.  Finally, I drank Euphoric again cold and decided, I would love it as an iced tea.

Liquor: A dark amber hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Euphoric is 3 – 4 minutes in 212 degree water.  I steeped for 4 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Earthbound Tea

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of Euphoric, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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moon crestOfficially, I’m on vacation – well at least from school for the week (not work).  The fourth of July is hastily approaching,  of course, the holiday does not occur without a family cookout with all the fixin’s.  Traditionally, on every holiday, my mother plans a big dinner during the Fall and Winter months and a cookout during the Spring and Summer. This year is no exception. Lately, I have added tea to the menu. While not everyone enjoys a cup, my family acknowledges my passion and is starting to expect me to bring a variety of teas for them to sample. Most have never heard of oolong or white tea or what they perceive as exotic blends like chai. It has been such a treat sharing what little I know about tea with my family.

Since all of our dinners and cookouts include potluck, this year, I think I’m going to make a variety of iced teas to share.  That, in conjunction with the store bought Amish Potato Saled my mother loves. Until then… I’m drinking Moon Crest a.k.a. Feng Huang Dan Cong.

Composition: Oolong tea leaves handpicked from bushes that grow on the Wudong peak of Phoenix Mountain in the Guangdong Province in China.

Dry Visual: Dark brown and dark green with a spattering of  light green curled tea leaves. Some stems are present.  Thanks Earthbound Tea for the picture.

Dry Aroma: Distinctly oolong – the leaves smell fresh. A slight vegetal aroma.

Flavor:  A very clean and light tasting oolong, the flavor is consistent from start to finish. Moon Crest has a slightly vegetal quality,  characteristic of some “green oolongs”, but not enough that the flavor could be compared to a green tea. Definitely refreshing and flavorful, I found Moon Crest to be a palate cleanser. The finish contains fruity notes.

As I often prefer, I enjoyed this cuppa tea with no sweetener.  Naturally sweet, there is almost no astringency (just a hint) thus no sweetener is needed. With such a mild tea, I fear the flavor profile would be compromised.

Liquor: A rich golden hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Moon Crest is 3 minutes in 180 degree water.  I steeped for 3 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Earthbound Tea

Caffeine: Yes.

Moon Crest Tea a.k.a Feng Huang Dan Cong is processed via a technique called “rattling”. As I am not familiar with this technique, it will be the subject of another post. If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of Moon Crest, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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mango green deI absolutely adore the summer! It is hot all the time and the sun magically bathes you in its glow. There is no better time, in my opinion, to go on vacation than in the summer. That is of course, followed by going on vacation in the winter to a warm, tropical, destination. My family and I just returned from vacation in Miami. It was wonderful to go to the beach – lay in the hot sand, listen to the sometimes crashing waves, and live day-to-day without obligations. During those few precious days, we laughed, we played, and I personally was refreshed. Thus, I sit today completely relaxed with a renewed sense of purpose. It is amazing how a peaceful state of mind can do that for you. My only complaint? I forgot to pack tea and was relegated to grocery store tea. Thus it is with great excitement that I steeped a cup of Mango Green Decaf today.

Composition: Decaffeinated green tea from the Korakundah Estate in Nilgiri, India, mango pieces, calendula, and natural mango.

Dry Visual: Predominantly light and dark green tea leaves – broken and curled with some stems present.  Additionally, there are the bright golden yellow calendula leaves and brownish orangy bits of dried mango.  Thanks Mighty Leaf Tea for the picture.

Dry Aroma: Delicious!  Both fruity and floral with the citrus smell of mango dominating.

Flavor:  A tisane, I found Mango Green Decaf to be a wonderful flavored tea. A mild green tea flavor with an amazing fruity presence, as the dry aroma suggests, from start to finish. However, I would add that the finish is complex as it also contains a floral quality – which I am sure is attributable to the calendula. The fruity/floral combination of flavors are complimentary as one does not dominate the other.

One could easily drink Mango Green Decaf  without sweetener (which I did) as there is only a mild, almost non-existent astringency. In my initial taste I was surprised that the green tea held no vegetal qualities either.  I think with the addition of a sweetener, Mango Green Decaf would make a fantastic iced tea as well.

Liquor: A rich amber hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Mango Green Decaf is 2 to 3  minutes in 170 – 180 degree water.  I steeped for 3 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Mighty Leaf Tea

Caffeine: The name suggests No – the Mighty Leaf Website says No – but the packaging says light caffeine.

If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of Mango Green Decaf, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

180px-Calendula_January_2008-1_filteredWhat is Calendula?

Calendula pot marigold, is a genus of about 12-20 species of annual or perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family Asteraceae, native to the area from Macaronesia east through the Mediterranean region to Iran. Calendula should not be confused with other plants that are also known as marigolds, such as plants of the genus Tagetes, corn marigolds or marsh marigolds.

Marigold petals are considered edible. They are often used to add color to salads, and marigold extract is commonly added to chicken feed to produce darker egg yolks. Their aroma, however, is not sweet, and resembles the smell of hops in beer. The oil from its seed contains calendic acid.

References:  Calendula. (2009, May 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:09, May 9, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Calendula&oldid=288782133

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Coco ChaiWhile many people think of iced tea as the method of choice for drinking tea, you will find here on Tea Escapade that I will continue to drink hot tea. There is something wonderful about holding a steaming cup of tea in my hands and inhaling the wonderful, steaming aroma of tea. Watching whole leaf teas unfurl and the enveloping sense of peace that comes from sitting still for even just a moment. Today’s tea choice… CoCo Chai Tea

Composition: Rooibos, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, red peppercorns, shredded coconut, natural flavors.

Dry Visual: Very color like potpourri – with reds, and yellows, rust and light brown. Various textures as well, from the bark like appearance of rooibos to the circular peppercorns to the actual strips of coconut instead of coconut flavoring. Thanks Mighty Leaf Tea for the picture.

Dry Aroma: Sweet and spicy – coconut and cardamom dominate with a hint of cinnamon. There is nothing quite like the smell of chai – in all of its many varieties the aroma steals the show.

Flavor:  An herbal tea,  CoCo Chai is absolutely delicious. While I tend to not drink a great deal of flavored teas, it is always nice to incorporate one into my tea routine. The rooibos dominates this brew with its nutty flavor and is complimented by hints of spiciness. As alluded to in the dry aroma, I found the coconut  flavor had a significant presence in the flavor profile from start to finish. This was followed by the combined tastes of cardamom and cinnamon. I was unable to distinguish the taste of the peppercorns initially – perhaps that had something to do with the fact that I was unsure what they were supposed to taste like.  Of course, I reopened the tea blend, found a peppercorn and popped it in my mouth. It was peppery but sweet. After eating the peppercorn and taking another sip of CoCo Chai, I could definitely taste its subtle influence.

One could easily drink CoCo Chai without sweetener as there is no astringency whatsoever.  However, I found that I preferred adding a little but of sugar. In my opinion sweetener softens what I would describe the “tart” nature of Rooibus.

Liquor: A bold rustic hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for CoCo Chai is 5 to 7  minutes in 202 degree water (or a rolling boil).  I steeped for 7 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Mighty Leaf Tea

Caffeine: No.

If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of CoCo Chai, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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300px-Gyokuro_img_0067A few weeks ago, my sister Alex and I had lunch at Essencha. Essencha is a wonderful tea house where one can have lunch, on Sunday’s breakfast, tea and an overall good time. Alex was in town for an extended weekend – I had been looking forward to taking her to lunch for the last few months, since I discovered she was planning to come home. Initially, I could not decide where we should go for lunch. But then it hit me, why not share with her a place that encapsulates one of my passions? Of course, I could not leave without expanding the selection of teas found in my pantry. Thus I purchased and have been drinking a great deal of lately, Gyokuro Kin.

Composition: Japanese green tea produced in the Asahina area of the Shizuoka prefecture.

Dry Visual: Lush, vibrant green, choppy leaves with light green stems. Resembles freshly cut blades of grass.

Dry Aroma: The outdoorsy smell of grass after a spring rain.

Flavor:  This was my first experience tasting Gyokuro Kin. Not knowing what to expect I decided not to have any expectations at all and was pleasantly surprised by the mild nature of this tea. While green tea is not my favorite category, I really love Gyokuro Kin. It has subtle grassy notes and is consistent from start to finish.  I found Gyokuro Kin to be both sweet and clean tasting. One interesting note, as the cup began to cool, Gyokuro Kin reminded me somewhat of a green oolong – others might disagree.

There is no need for the addition of a sweetener and thus none was added.  Gyokuro Kin has no astringency; however, adding honey and drinking as an iced tea is a definite option. I found that I was able to get two very delicious infusions out of the same tea leaves – I’ve yet to try for a third.

Liquor: A light green almost yellow hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Gyokuro Kin is 2 minutes in 160 degree water.  This is one tea that is not very forgiving, I accidentally steeped using preboiling water and let’s just say, I did not have a tasty cup of tea. Therefore, I steeped for 2 minutes as recommended for the first infusion and 3 to 4 minutes for the second infusion.

Manufacturer: Essencha

Caffeine: Yes.

Gyokuro means “Jewel dew” and is processed like Sencha, another awesome Japanese green tea. If you have had an opportunity to try Gyokuro Kin, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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earl greenAs my statistics class ended and I start anew with Managerial Economics, I find myself seeking a moment of reprieve. Mentally, I am exhausted, but must push on. With only five (5) classes left to finish my MBA – I am determined to stay focused. Which is increasingly difficult to do amidst the myriad of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, etc. Therefore,  I am resigned to find solace in a hot, soothing cup of tea. Today’s choice… Organic Earl Green

Composition:  Organic Darjeeling green tea and bergamot oil.

Dry Visual: Dark brown thinly twisted leaves with hints of dark and light green leaves – some stems are present.  Thank you Mighty Leaf Tea for the photograph.

Dry Aroma: The pungent, lemony smell of bergamot dominates.

Flavor:  First things first, I was quite surprised by this blend.  I have never had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of Earl Green Tea before now. Perhaps this blend is not new to you, but I was quite intrigued. As with most Earl Grey’s and as the dry aroma would suggest, the taste of bergamot is the dominate flavor throughout the entire cup.  A lover of bergamot, I found this to be extremely pleasing. What I found different, yet actually enjoyed was the distinct difference between Organic Earl Green and the traditional Earl Grey made with black tea – the more subtle tea taste.  I found this blend to be free of the vegetal flavor commonly found in green tea AND free of the astringency typically found in black tea. I have discovered, it seems, the best of both worlds.

There was no need for the addition of a sweetener and thus none was added.  However, Organic Earl Green is robust and definitely could stand its ground against any sweetener you may desire to add. The flavor was consistent from start to finish.

Liquor: An amber hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Organic Earl Green is 2 – 3 minutes in boiling water.  I steeped for 3 minutes as recommended for the first infusion, however, I prefer water temperature at pre-boil. The second infusion I steeped for 4 minutes. One world of caution, stay true to the steeping instructions – steeping for too long does not produce a good cup of tea. I speak from experience.

Manufacturer: Mighty Leaf Tea

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had an opportunity to try Organic Earl Green, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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Jade OolongI am sure many of you have begun to think… “when will Tea Escapade publish another tea review?” I have been so enamored with my trip to The World Tea Expo that many of my recent posts, okay all of my recent posts, have focused on my first experience at this event. Well rest assured, I have not forgotten about my readers who visit Tea Escapade for product and tea reviews. Thus, I promised myself that today would be the day to post a long awaited review.  It was truly my pleasure to review Jade Oolong from Mighty Leaf Tea.

Composition:  Simply oolong tea from China’s Anxi province       

Dry Visual: Very green with a hint of yellow rolled leaves with stems present. Thank you Mighty Leaf Tea for the photograph.

Dry Aroma: Quite floral and fresh.

Flavor:  Jade Oolong is simply delicious – although I am partial to oolongs. This oolong begins with a very clean and floral flavor as the dry aroma suggests.  Several sips later reveal mild grassy notes in the finish.  As the cup cooled, I found Jade Oolong to be very smooth in the mouth with slightly stonger grassy notes.  Additionally, I love the fact that  Jade Oolong has almost no astringency.  There isn’t a hint of bitterness, however, the aftertaste has a subtle dryness. Naturally sweet, Jade Oolong required no sweetener – I fear the flavor profile would be ruined by the introduction of a sweetener.

Liquor: Pale yellow with a light green hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Jade Oolong is 3 – 5 minutes in boiling water.  I steeped for 3 minutes as recommended for the first infusion.

Manufacturer: Mighty Leaf Tea

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had an opportunity to try Jade Oolong, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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strip_closeup3060

Perhaps this may be seen as overkill, but I have another last night I enjoyed another tea by Strip Teas. Usually I try to mix tea reviews so that I share my adventures with various different retailers and flavors, but not this week. Almost every day this week I have sipped a cup of tea containing a Strip Teas tea. The convenience of the packaging makes Strip Teas a easy choice. So far, I share Pushkar Rose and Kashmiri Kahwah – today I’ll share Mint.

Composition:  Nilgiri loose leaf tea blended with dried sprigs of mint.

Dry Visual: I am unable to ascertain as the tea comes prepackaged in an aluminum infuser. Thanks Strip Teas for the picture of the actual loose leaf tea.

Dry Aroma: Mildly minty.

Flavor:  First things first, I love mint tea. Peppermint, Spearmint, Moroccan Mint… I cannot think of a time when I have turned down mint tea. Thus I was highly anticipating drinking a cup of Mint by Strip Teas. The first flavor that greeted me was the taste of Nilgiri. I was surprised and intrigued by the combination of black tea and mint. minttealeavesYet, if ever a black tea was to be blended with mint, I couldn’t think of a better choice than Nilgiri. A black tea both flavorful and mild without a hint of bitterness.  Of course, I was looking next for the power packed punch of mint because I prefer my mint tea extra minty. As the dry aroma suggests, the mint within this blend was very mild, leaving me somewhat disappointed. Overall, Mint is flavorful yet smooth. No sweetener was required nor added to this cup of tea as I was in a purist mood. 

Liquor: A rich brown.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Mint is 1 Strip Tea for 2 – 4 minutes in boiling water.  I steeped for 4 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Strip Teas

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had the opportunity to enjoy a cup of Mint by Strip Teas, stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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strip_closeup3060  There never seems to be enough time in the day.  By the time one goes to work, schedule and attend all of the kids appointments – from football practice to parent/teacher conferences, spends quality time with the family, and make some mediocre attempt to manage household duties, it is time to go to bed and start the insanity all over again the next day. Whatever your responsibilities call for, it is always nice to steal a little time out of the day to spend doing the things you enjoy doing.  Like … a phone conversation with friends,  reading a good book, a walk in the sunshine (unless you live in the midwest where the weather resembles rainy London or Seattle) or savor a cup of tea.

So this afternoon, I took a few minutes to make a cup of tea and simply enjoy it. In the midst of meetings, performance reviews, and following up on past due invoices, I inhaled deeply the aroma of  Kashmiri Kahwa.

Composition:  Pure Nilgiri loose leaf tea blended with almonds, cardamon, cinnamon and a hint of saffron.

Dry Visual: I am unable to ascertain as the tea comes prepackaged in an aluminum infuser. Thanks Strip Teas for the picture of the actual loose leaf tea.

 Dry Aroma: Spicy – particularly cardamom, which I initially mistook for black licorice and cinnamon.kahwatealeavesclose

Flavor:  The first taste exuded the mild characteristic traits of Nilgiri – I new it immediately when it hit my tastebuds. Whenever I taste a tea for the first time, I do so without reading the ingredients to develop an unbiased opinion of the flavors that present themselves. Immediately following the Nilgiri, I was greeted by the spiciness of the cardamom. The sweet taste of cinnamon formed the middle and Kashmiri Kahwa finished with the combined flavors of cinnamon and almond. The nutty flavor of the almond was difficult to ascertain initially yet presented itself later in the cup as Kashmiri Kahwa began to cool.

Kashmiri Kahwa reminds me of a smooth chai tea – a popular Indian way of drinking tea. Interestingly, where I would normlly add milk and honey to a chai tea blended with assam, I found that I preferred the smooth taste of the nigilri without the addition of either. Perhaps in my next cup.

Liquor: A rich brown.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Kashmiri Kahwa is 1 Strip Tea for 2 – 4 minutes in boiling water.  I steeped for 4 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Strip Teas

Caffeine: Yes.

What’s In A Name?

Kashmir, the first part of Kashmiri Kahwa, is located within the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Kahwah (also spelled qehwa, kehwa or kahwa) is a traditional green tea recipe that originates from Kashmir. It is made in parts of Kashmir administered by Pakistan and India, as well as throughout various regions of the countries.

If you have had the opportunity to try Kashmiri Kahwa, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

References:

1. Kahwah. (2009, February 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:08, April 21, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kahwah&oldid=268620973

2. Kashmir. (2009, April 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:09, April 21, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kashmir&oldid=284003085

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