Pluck’s The Canada 150 Blend

The Canada 150 Blend by Pluck
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.00 for 50g

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Pluck’s The Canada 150 Blend came to me as part of The Sugared Teacup’s July themed subscription box.

First Impressions

I’ve always been a sucker for good packaging, and Pluck does pass the test in that regard. A simple foil-and-plastic bag, it does the trick to keep the tea from getting stale due to exposure to air. The nice thing is that there is some of the tea that is visible on the clear side, so you can see what you’re getting. I really like the themed label – the red and white with the maple leaves just scream Canada to me, so it’s really nice to see.

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The Canada 150 Blend is made up of: black tea, sunflower petals, safflower petals, and natural flavouring. According to the product page on the Pluck website, the ‘natural flavouring’ is “natural caramel cream flavouring”. The smell of the dry leaf is primarily the black tea base. The tea has a sweetened aroma to it, which I’ll chalk up to the added flavouring, while the black tea base reminds me a lot of a straight breakfast tea – it’s generally has a bold, strong aroma to it that has just a hint of malty flavour in the fragrance.

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Preparation

Pluck recommends steeping The Canada 150 Blend in 100°C (212°F) water for 5 to 7 minutes. I honestly thought 7 minutes was a bit much, so my initial steep was for just 5 minutes.

First Taste

The Canada 150 Blend steeps to a really nice golden red, the colour was more intense in my teapot than in my teacup for sure. It has a nice malty aroma to it that was quite inviting. On first sip, I’m really glad that I did not opt to steep for the upper end of the recommended steep time (7 minutes) because I found that the aftertaste of each sip to be on the just a little bit bitter side. This tea could probably stand to be steeped for a shorter amount of time (perhaps 4 minutes?), just to avoid that aftertaste. I would describe this black tea blend as being strong – it has quite a bold, malty flavour to it, with just a hint of astringency in each sip. I would liken it to being very similar to a traditional English Breakfast tea. The one thing that does set it apart is just a touch of creamy sweetness that blends in well with the malty flavour. I think we can thank the caramel flavouring for that.

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I tried this tea also with some added honey and evaporated milk – the honey helped bring out more of the flavouring out of the caramel, and the milk helped to temper the bitter aftertaste. All in all, I think the tea accepts a bit of help quite easily and it makes for a tastier cup of tea if you accidentally oversteep it.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped The Canada 150 Blend twice (three steeps total). I found the flavouring to be fairly similar to the first steep for the first resteep, but the flavour just fell flat for the second resteep. Overall, I would say that The Canada 150 Blend is good for one more steep.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Pluck’s The Canada 150 Blend. I love all things Canadiana, so it’s probably not too big of a surprise that I did like this tea. I’m always a fan of solid black teas, and this one has a bit of a twist to it (with the caramel flavouring), but I found that it held up really well to the addition of sweetener and some evaporated milk. I think if you’re a fan of breakfast teas, you’ll probably like this one as well – it has a strong, bold flavour profile. It’d be a good tea to replace your morning cup of coffee with, or to serve with an afternoon tea if you’re looking to change things up from the tea time staple of Earl Grey. This black tea blend smells amazing, and it does taste quite good. I would just recommend watching the steep times (try 4 minutes and go up from there, I think you’d be woefully disappointed if you started at 7 minutes).

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Living Leaf Tea’s Gong Mei White Tea

Gong Mei White Tea by Living Leaf Tea
White Tea / Straight
$14.95USD for 30g

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Living Leaf Tea has provided me with Gong Mei White Tea for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Gong Mei White Tea is possibly one of the most minimally processed teas that I’ve ever had the pleasure of steeping. This tea came to me in a resealable white bag with a simple label. “100% Organic High Mountain Tea” is printed just under the Living Leaf Tea name and I just know it’s going to be good. This Gong Mei White Tea is a straight white tea from Yunnan, China.

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The dry leaf is beautiful. Unlike other teas that I’ve tried in the past, this one has these beautiful unrolled leaves. I can see fuzzy feathering on the leaves, and several pieces are two leaves and a bud – the ideal tea leaves. This tea is hand picked, and I believe it given the care with each piece. The dry leaf has a very mild fragrance to it – it has a natural sweetness to it that reminds me of apples.

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Preparation

There were no steeping instruction in either the packaging or the product page on the Living Leaf Tea website, so I opted to follow the steeping guidelines for white teas from the Tea Association of Canada. I steeped this beautiful straight white tea in 80°C (185°F) for an initial steep of 2 minutes.

First Taste

After a short two minute steep, Gong Mei White Tea looks like a barely tinted water. The colouring is so pale that I almost thought I forgot to actually steep leaves! Luckily, what it lacked in colour was greatly made up for in taste. This white tea has a light sweetness to it, and a fruity flavour. It reminds me greatly of apples still, which is lovely because I do like apples. The tea itself is very light and has a very clean taste to it. I found there was no bitterness, no astringency, just a sweet and light liquor.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Gong Mei White Tea fourteen times (so fifteen steeps total). The tea gets consistently darker and more golden until about the eighth steep, after that it starts getting paler. The tea has a lovely sweetness to the apple flavour that holds well until the fifteenth steep. The tea develops a thickened mouthfeel to it by the sixth steep, which paired well with the honey sweetness of the apple flavours in this straight white tea. Near the end, I was pouring excess tea from my teapot into a pitcher to put into the fridge for iced tea (spoiler alert: it makes an excellent iced tea).

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Living Leaf Tea’s Gong Mei White Tea. It’s rare that I come across a tea that is such high quality and holds up so well to many resteeps, let alone a total of 15 steeps of the same leaves. This tea was a joy to have over a morning (and an afternoon). For the price of the tea, I do think that you get much more value than what you pay for. The flavour of Gong Mei White Tea is lovely, the colouring is beautiful. I really like teas that can be steeped and resteeped again, especially when the texture and flavours subtly change – and this tea really delivers on that. While I really enjoyed Gong Mei White Tea as a hot tea, it also did very well iced, so if you’re finding that you don’t want to (or are just unable to…) have more than a dozen steeps of this tea in a day, you can always steep some to save for later.

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Citizen Tea’s Cactus Fig Green

Cactus Fig Green by Citizen Tea
Green Tea / Flavoured
$6.50 for 50g

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Citizen Tea has provided me with Cactus Fig Green 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’ve had aloe juice before – it’s delicious and has little chunks of jelly in it (at least the brand I buy does), so when I saw that this green tea blend had aloe vera in it, I was both intrigued and confused. Mostly because I know there wouldn’t be little chunks of jelly in this tea, so I was curious about how it would taste. On first smell, I can tell you that it smells sweet, which is the first thing I would tell you about aloe juice as well. I can smell the sweetness from the aloe and the figs.

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Cactus Fig Green is made up of: green tea, fig pieces, aloe vera pieces, sandalwood, orange flower petals, and flavouring. I’m not entirely sure what sandalwood is supposed to smell like, but I can definitely see it in this blend and there’s something that reminds me a smoked wood aroma from this tea, so it might be that.

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Preparation

Citizen Tea suggests steeping Cactus Fig Green in in 80°C (176°F) water for 2-3 minutes, which I followed. My initial steep was for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Cactus Fig Green steeps to a pale yellow, there was some little bits of the tea that made it through my stainless steel infuser so I would recommend steeping with a drawstring teabag if that bothers you. The tea itself has a very fresh smell to it, which is honestly the best way that I could describe it. The aloe aroma is a very ‘clean’ smell, it’s bright and fruity. The taste of aloe vera is very much present in this green tea blend. I found the tea to be light and smooth, no bitterness to note. There was a sweetness to this tea that I attribute to the aloe and the figs. The sweet fruitiness of the figs was tasty, but I think the aloe was just a little bit more in the forefront of the flavour profile. The green tea base has a light grassy taste to it that is complimented well by the flavours of the aloe and the fig.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Cactus Fig Green once, at the same water temperature for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I found the flavour to be a lot lighter, with more grassy notes. The overall flavour felt a bit flat to me, but the green tea base was starting to reveal itself more so I think it’s worth a resteep to have a different flavour experience.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Citizen Tea’s Cactus Fig Green. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m a huge fan of aloe and I found that the flavours of the aloe and the fig played really well together with the green tea base that Citizen Tea used. It’s quite a refreshing tea, the flavour is sweet and light with a bit of fruity goodness in it. I think this tea would do really well if cold steeped or iced, which makes it a good summer time tea. I don’t even think you’d have to add any sweetener to it because the aloe and fig provide enough sweetness to this blend.

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The Sugared Teacup: Subscription Box Review

The Sugared Teacup
Monthly Tea Club Subscription
$20-35 per month or $35 USD per month

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The Sugared Teacup is a curated monthly subscription box by Deb, who I’ve had great pleasure in communication with online prior to purchasing the June and July themed boxes this year. I was really drawn to both the June and July boxes because they were themed for the Canada 150 celebration (and I’m a sucker for all things Canadiana this year!). This review will be centered around the July box, which she entitled True North: With Love from Canada.

There were a lot of hand written goodness in this box, including a handwritten card, the story of how The Sugared Teacup came to be, and just cute handwritten notes throughout. Opening this box was like opening up a present that someone made just for me – it was so much fun and I could really tell that there was a lot of thought and care put into each item that was so carefully wrapped and put together. It’s definitely a fun way to treat yourself on a monthly basis.

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One of the goodies for the July box included one of four wooden tea-themed coasters created by The Maker Bean Cafe. The note said to smell the wood, so I had to! It smells amazing. I wish I had all four though, I love sets of things and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Deb decides to include the coasters in future boxes or sells them a la carte. Who doesn’t need a good set of tea-themed coasters?

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The next goodie was this lovely Canada 150 pin. Pins are just very on-trend right now, but I’ve always been a long-time collector of pins and magnets, so this one will fit right into my collection of badges. The art is by Yolanda of YFL.ART and includes the very iconic CN Tower from the Toronto skyline.

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Next up is the teas! I won’t be reviewing the teas in this review (because this is of the box only), but reviews of these teas will be coming up in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back for my thoughts and opinions on these three lovelies: Pluck Tea‘s The Canada 150 Blend (black tea blend), Lemon Lily‘s Summer Splash (herbal infusion), and Tealish‘s Northern Lights (green tea blend).

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The Sugared Teacup offers local pick-up of the monthly boxes (if you live in Toronto or can get to Toronto…), as well as shipped within Ontario, and the rest of Canada. There’s also a USA option if you’re south of the 49th parallel. The prices vary depending on if shipping is a factor or not. There are 1, 3, and 6 month options when subscribing to The Sugared Teacup.

The amazing thing is that there’s so many options for your tea boxes! Deb offers boxes for: black, green, straight green, fruit, herbal/rooibos, mixed, or her Tea Box of the Month. Like I mentioned, just so many options! The Canada 150 boxes that I got for June and July fall under the “Tea Box of the Month”, which I just thought were amazing. I think if I were to continue getting The Sugared Teacup boxes, I would definitely opt for the themed boxes because it would really push me to try different teas from companies that I may not have heard of. As it is, I’m really excited to try the teas that I got in both the June and July boxes because the companies are new to me and the teas are also new to me as well.

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I loved getting my box in the mail. It’s just a lot of fun to open up a well-decorated box that just had so much going on. I think that The Sugared Teacup is a fun way to introduce yourself to new-to-you teas, and the personal touches that Deb puts into these boxes are incredibly thoughtful. The Sugared Teacup boxes are just so well put together and the curated collection of teas are just done so well.

Gold Peak Tea’s Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea

Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea by Gold Peak Tea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$2.97 for 1.75L

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First Impressions

Gold Peak Tea appeared in my local grocery store and I was curious – mostly because it’s a tea product and I’m all about the tea. I was a little bit cautious though, because I can be a bit particular about my teas and a product like this isn’t something that I can play around with to really tweak and modify to my liking. That said, I decided to give their Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea a try – mostly because it was on sale.

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Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea is made up of: tea (filtered water, brewed tea concentrate), cane sugar, natural flavour, citric acid, and potassium citrate. Not a terribly long list of ingredients, which is nice to see in a prepared product. As a bonus, the label does mention that this product doesn’t contain preservatives or added colours. Oh, and this iced tea has to be kept refrigerated.

First Taste

Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea has a nice colour to it, I can definitely tell that the brewed tea concentrate that they used is a black. The aroma of this tea is all lemon, which isn’t to surprising considering the name of the tea. The lemon flavour is very bright, and the tea itself isn’t as sweet as I expected. The cane sugar has just enough sweetness to cut the lemon to the point where you can taste the lemon and it isn’t making your mouth pucker. The tea base itself has a slight malty flavour to it, which makes me wonder if they used an Assam as the base. It’s smooth going down, and it does well in a pinch if you’re craving some iced tea.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Gold Peak Tea’s Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea. It’s not too sickeningly sweet, and it’s nice to see a product on the shelf that isn’t full of high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. I would have liked to have more information about the tea itself on the packaging, although I’m 99% sure that it’s a black tea base in this bottle. I think it’s a great iced tea if you’re looking for something on the go or if you’re not confident in your iced tea steeping skills. The balance of sweetness from the cane sugar to the lemon in this tea are quite good, especially since neither overpower the tea base which I really like. I’m still a huge fan of making my own iced teas at home, I like being able to make a wider variety of iced tea flavours and there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the flavours of this iced tea because it’s a fully prepared product. That said, I think it is delicious. One of the reasons that I probably won’t buy too much of it is because the bottle does take up a lot of real estate in my fridge. If it was shelf-stable and I could keep some in my pantry to save for when I’m feeling lazy, I think that would be a total game changer.

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