Teavana’s Golden Monkey

Golden Monkey by Teavana
Black Tea / Straight
$19.98 for 2oz

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First Impressions

Golden Monkey is a black tea from Teavana, and one of my Starbucks Rewards choices. The dry leaf has wiry leaves, twisted together, with golden/yellow tips. Inhaling the scent from the dry leaf is a sweet honey, floral aroma. It’s quite inviting. I like the look of this tea leaves with the golden tips. The ingredients is made up of black tea. It’s nice to see a straight tea option, and the name makes me smile.

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Preparation

Teavana recommends steeping Golden Monkey in 205°F (96°C) water for 3 minutes. I steeped this tea initially for 3 minutes.

First Taste

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Golden Monkey has a malty aroma to it when it steeps. On first sip, the first thing I notice is the very malty taste to it. There’s no bitterness to the tea when it’s steeped for 3 minutes. The honey smell to the dry leaf is present in the steeped tea, there’s a very light honeyed sweetness to the tea that is enjoyable. The floral notes I first smelled from the dry leaf isn’t present in the taste though, which is a bit disappointing. Oddly enough, I found that Golden Monkey has a bit of a sour aftertaste that lingers on the tongue. While the tea itself is fairly pleasant, the sour aftertaste is not. I steeped a fresh cup of Golden Monkey at a shorter steeping time to see if the sour aftertaste would disappear.

I steeped the tea at 2 minutes and the sour aftertaste is not present. I steeped it for 2 minutes and 30 seconds and the sour aftertaste is present. I would recommend steeping it for just 2 minutes initially to avoid the aftertaste.

A Second Cup?

Golden Monkey resteeps fairly well. I did it once and the taste remains fairly close to the first steep. If you opted to steep it at the recommended time (3 minutes), I’m sorry to report that the lingering sourness is still present on the second steep.

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My Overall Impression

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I thought that Teavana’s Golden Monkey was just okay. Golden Monkey is a decent black tea, I quite like the honey malty flavours of it. However, the recommended steeping time of 3 minutes is far too long and the sour taste leaves me not overly ecstatic about this tea. It’s a decent straight black tea, that has a great taste as long as you don’t steep it for the recommended length of time. Because of that (and honestly, the price – there are less expensive straight black teas out there!), I had to give it a lower score.

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Murchie’s High Roast Ti Kuan Yin

High Roast Ti Kuan Yin by Murchie’s
Oolong Tea / Straight
$3.95 for 1oz (28g)

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First Impressions

I bought High Roast Ti Kuan Yin at the same time that I had bought the non-high roast Ti Kuan Yin Oolong (my review was published in November 2016). Ti Kuan Yin Oolong is also known as tie guan yin oolong or iron Buddha oolong. There’s just a lot of oolong tea going around in my home these days and I don’t mind one bit! I’ve really come to love and appreciate oolong tea.

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High Roast Ti Kuan Yin is one of Murchie’s “top shelf” teas, so the minimum purchase amount is 1oz rather than their standard 2oz for non-top shelf teas. The only ingredient in this tea is the oolong tea leaves. The dry leaf of High Roast Ti Kuan Yin  has this almost earthy quality that is a little bit difficult for me to describe, it’s not the same wet earthy quality that pu’erh teas often have. There is some light, subtle floral notes, and an almost nutty quality to the smell of the tea that reminds me a bit of roasted chestnuts.

Preparation

Murchie’s recommends steeping High Roast Ti Kuan Yin in 82-90°C (180-195°F) water for 2 to 3 minutes. I started off my first steep at 2 minutes.

First Taste

High Roast Ti Kuan Yin steeps to a deep golden orange. It has a nice toast smell to it. On first sip, the first thing that comes to mind is toast and bread. There’s a very light, almost missed floral taste in this tea. I really had to concentrate to pick out the floral notes though. The nutty quality in the dry leaf is still present in the steeped tea, with the roasted chestnuts taste mingling well with the taste (and smell) of freshly made toast. It’s an interesting combination, to say the least!

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped High Roast Ti Kuan Yin a total of seven times. I found that the flavour was the strongest for the 3rd steep, and the flavour stays fairly consistent up to the 6th steep. By the 7th, the flavour was really starting wane. I wouldn’t do much more steeps past number seven.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Murchie’s High Roast Ti Kuan Yin. I’m always a sucker for a tea that can be resteeped over and over again, and High Roast Ti Kuan Yin does deliver on that part. While the taste of roasted chestnuts and toast is an interesting flavour combination, I found myself wishing that the floral notes were more present in this tea. It’s definitely a tea that is enjoyable, but it’s not necessarily a tea that I would find myself wanting to make sure I had topped up whenever I ran low. High Roast Ti Kuan Yin is a good tea but it’s not a favourite for me.

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Oollo Tea’s Iron Buddha Oolong

Iron Buddha Oolong by Oollo Tea
Oolong Tea / Straight
$10.00 for 25g

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Oollo Tea has provided me with Iron Buddha Oolong for the purposes of providing an honest review.
I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

I first learned about Oollo Tea when I attended the 2016 Vancouver Tea Festival (oh yes, this review is long overdue!). The loveliest thing about their booth was their friendly staffers running the table and offering samples! Iron Buddha Oolong is a tea that I got in a sampler packet, I relied on their website for more information regarding the background of the tea.

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The first thing I noticed when I tore open the packaging is that Iron Buddha Oolong smells like plums. There this nice fruity aroma to it that reminds me a lot of plums and apricots – those familiar stone fruit flavours. There’s some woody and earthy notes to it, but the plum is what stands out to me the most. The tea leaves themselves are dark in colour and tightly rolled.

Preparation

The steeping instructions provided by Oollo Tea for Iron Buddha Oolong is to steep in 90-95°C (194-203°F) water for 2 to 5 minutes. They helpfully include that it can be brewed 5 times.

First Taste

I steeped about half of the sampler package for my pot of tea, as I knew that the leaves would need room to expand. The first steep I did was for 2 minutes, and the Iron Buddha Oolong steeps to a deep orange. The smell of the tea reminds me of honey and plums. After the two minutes, I tried a sip and found that the tea itself has a very nice texture to it. There’s almost this thickened feel to it. Iron Buddha Oolong gave me a nice warming sensation as I drank it, there’s zero bitterness or astringency to this tea, and there’s a nice smooth mouthfeel to it.

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The plum notes in this tea are quite nice, and mingle well on the tongue. Iron Buddha Oolong has a nice natural sweetness to it with the honeyed notes that it does not need additional sweetener.

A Second Cup?

Because Oollo Tea suggests up to five steeps, I could not resist trying it out for multiple steeps. The second steep (2mins, 30secs) was paler than the first steep, but the honeyed notes became strong. For steeps three, four, and five, the flavour remains well balanced between the plum and honey notes. Steeps six and seven start to wane a little bit in terms of flavour, but it’s still pleasant. By steep eight, the tea begins to lack flavour enough that I didn’t try for a ninth.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Oollo Tea’s Iron Buddha Oolong. I’m always a sucker for a good quality tea that can be resteeped again and again and again – and for eight good steeps, this is a sure winner and definitely worth the price of the tea. While $10 for 25g may seem expensive, please keep in mind that I used half of a package of a 5g package for a pot (so ideally 25g would yield 10 pots of tea, with 7-8 steeps per pot). The sweet plum flavour of this tea is delicious, and I think it would be great tea throughout the day (and I would recommend it, seeing as how many times it can be steeped!). The beautiful honeyed taste to Iron Buddha Oolong makes it a winner for me, since I love sweet things.

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January is National Hot Tea Month

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January is National Hot Tea Month, but I think it’s safe to say that every month is hot tea month around here!

I had a bit of a break from tea reviewing, but December was a bit jam-packed with my 24 Days of Tea advent calendar and all the reviews that resulted from that. I have a long list of teas that I have that I still need to review. The first will be coming up later this week! I’m excited to get back into it, and I added more to my backlog of teas to review with teas that I had received as Christmas gifts.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season, and I hope your tea cups are full with good cheer this year.

24 Days of Tea: Santa’s Secret

Santa’s Secret by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$7.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

It is Christmas Eve, the first day of Hanukkah, and day 24 of the 24 Days of Tea advent calendar and the last tea is: Santa’s Secret. Santa’s Secret is one of the first teas that I tried at DavidsTea and one of the first teas that I bought from them. In a word, I would describe this tea as being “cute”. I really like the little candy cane sprinkles in it. The ingredients are fairly easy to see with the black tea leaves and the dried peppermint leaves mixed in.

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When smelling the dry leaf, the tea smells like mint and vanilla, the black tea base is fragrant as well, and tends to linger in the background a little bit but is very much present in the mix. The ingredients in Santa’s Secret are: black tea, peppermint, sprinkles, natural and artificial vanilla flavouring.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Santa’s Secret in near-boiling water (90-95°C/194-203°F) for 4 to 7 minutes. I opted to steep my first pot for 4 minutes.

First Taste

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While Santa’s Secret is steeping, there’s a noticeable minty and vanilla smell that comes from the tea. The vanilla reminds me a lot of Christmas baking because I like to use vanilla in my cookies. This tea definitely touches on all the holiday smells that are familiar to me! Santa’s Secret steeps to a golden orange. I find that the mint and vanilla flavours are less in-your-face when drinking the tea, as the black tea base is well balanced with the flavours. There’s a smoothness to the tea that is nice, no astringency or bitterness noted.

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I find that a little touch of sweetener helps brighten up the mint and vanilla flavours in the tea, and I also make this one into a tea latte fairly frequently because it makes for a nice treat.

A Second Cup?

The candy cane sprinkles don’t fully dissolve for me with the first steep. After a second steep (for 5 minutes), I find that the flavours are comparable to the first steep and the little candy canes are completely melted away. Santa’s Secret is good for one more steep. I find subsequent steeps to be lack in the vanilla flavour.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved DavidsTea’s Santa’s Secret. It’s a nice change to a straight black tea, and it has a great mint and vanilla flavour combination to add to an otherwise plain tea. Santa’s Secret is delightful, and the fragrances really make m think of the holidays which I think is great in a holiday themed tea. This is a tea that I already have a big stash of in my tea collection/stash for year-round Christmas cheer and I may need to get more after the 25th…

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