Yunomi’s Premium Shimane Sencha 2016

Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 by Yunomi
Green Tea / Straight
$8.50USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 is a beautiful dark green, the dry leaf has small flat pieces. There’s a slight vegetal smell to this sencha that reminds me a lot of edamame and spinach smell to it. The sample package came with plenty of tea leaves, probably enough for 4-5 servings (in a 20g packet).

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As per the Yunomi website, this is a “premium unshaded first flush sencha” that comes from the Takarabako Tea Farm. First flush means that it’s the earliest harvested leaves from the tea plant, harvested in the early spring. These leaves are often lighter in colour and more delicate, and often need cooler water to be steeped in and for a shorter duration.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 in 70°C (158°F) for 1 minute. I use my Breville IQ Kettle all the time when making tea, and it doesn’t have a 158°F setting (lowest is 175°F). What I did was heat water to the lowest setting, and once that was reached I allowed the water to cool in the kettle (with the top open) for about 5 minutes.

First Taste

After the quick 1 minute steep, I poured a cup of Premium Shimane Sencha 2016. The tea itself has a very light yellow-green colour, and the aroma that comes up from the tea is very much like the dry leaf – the tea still has an edamame and spinach aroma to it, with a slight salty smell to it. It tastes the way that it smells, with a nice vegetal taste to it. The saltiness adds to the umami flavour of the tea. There’s a slight astringency at the end of each sip, despite only having steeped it for exactly a minute. I think it could stand to be steeped for even a shorter length of time.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 four times (a total of five times), and started the first resteep at 60 seconds (and then increased the steep times by 30 seconds per subsequent steep). I found for the first two resteeps, the sencha had a strong vegetal aroma, with a heavier salty flavour. The third and fourth resteeps were a bit milder, the umami flavour was overall more muted, with less astringency of all the steeps.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Yunomi’s Premium Shimane Sencha 2016. This green tea has remarkably tasty with a good umami flavour profile. I found it resteeped well, despite the slight astringency (although it isn’t overwhelming). This sencha resteeps well, and maintains its flavour. I would recommend being very light on the steeping time, especially if you’re a bit sensitive to astringent teas.

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Teavana’s Peach Tranquility

Peach Tranquility by Teavana
Fruit Infusion / Flavoured
$10.95 for 44.4g (12 sachets)

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First Impressions

I received this box of Peach Tranquility from a friend who gave it to me and said “I thought you might like this”. Well, it’s a form of tea so chances are pretty high I’ll love the fact that someone saw tea and thought of me. That said, this isn’t one that I’ve tried before. Peach Tranquility comes in a fairly large box for the fact that it only contains 12 individually wrapped sachets (spoiler: most of the box was completely empty/filled with air).

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Peach Tranquility came packaged in tea pyramids, and each pyramid comes in an individual foil packet. Not entirely the greatest for the environment, but what can I do about that? The smell is amazing, Peach Tranquility smells strongly of peaches with soft floral notes in the background. In reality, peaches are actually low on the ingredients list. Peach Tranquility consist of: apple pieces, candied pineapple pieces, rose hip peels, chamomile flowers, natural flavour, peach pieces, citric acid, and lemon verbena.

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Preparation

Teavana recommends steeping Peach Tranquility in 96°C (205°F) water for 5 minutes. I followed the steeping instructions for my initial steep of Peach Tranquility.

First Taste

Peach Tranquility steeps to be remarkably pale, with a light orange-yellow colour. The aroma that comes up from this fruit infusion is divine though, smelling sweetly of peaches and pineapple – it’s a nice tropical blend with a floral background, much like with the dry leaf. On first taste, I mostly taste the peaches. There’s a nice sweet pineapple flavour that lingers in the background, and the floral notes were mostly found at the end of each sip. Despite all the fruit in this tisane, and the fact that the pineapple was candied, it’s not as sweet as I was expecting.

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I did try a cup of Peach Tranquility with a touch of sweetener added (I used agave syrup) and I found that the peach flavour was even stronger once boosted by some sweetness. I also poured out a cup to be iced and found the fruit infusion to be even better when iced than hot.

A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep Peach Tranquility. I found the flavour to be lacking from the peaches, pineapples, and floral notes that I enjoyed in the initial steep. I would say that Peach Tranquility is good for one steep only.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Teavana’s Peach Tranquility. I really quite enjoyed the first steep of this tisane, especially with some added sweetener and iced. I’m always going to be a bigger fan of fruit infusions iced over hot. I found that the peach flavours were quite refreshing, but it needed just a touch of sweetener to boost the fruit flavours. Unfortunately, this tisane did not do well for a second steep. Luckily, I’m not head-over-heels in love with this tea, as I suspect that I would have issues finding more of it as the Teavana retail locations are closing this month in Canada.

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Fox Tea Club’s Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights by Fox Tea Club
Black Tea & Green Tea / Flavoured
$9.95USD for 2oz

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Fox Tea Club has provided me with Arabian Nights for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

I was eager to try Fox Tea Club’s teas after seeing some of their photos on their Instagram account, and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of teas they sent me to try! This first review is of Arabian Nights, a black and green tea blend. First off, I just want to saw how cute their packaging is. Arabian Nights came to me in a fox print cardboard cylindrical box. The name of the tea was hand written and it is sealed with red wax with a fox paw print – how adorable is that?

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The dry leaf of Arabian Nights is quite sweet smelling, and has hints of tropical fruit. There’s some floral notes as well, and I can definitely make out the smell of roses from this tea that mingle well with the fruity aromas. Arabian Nights is made up of: black tea, calendula, cornflower, green tea, mango, pineapple, rose.

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Preparation

The packaging of Arabian Nights didn’t offer any suggested steeping instructions, neither did the online product page. One thing to consider when steeping a tea blend is what tea varieties are in the blend. In the case of Arabian Nights, there’s black and green tea. While I would normally steep a black tea in 100°C (212°F) for about 4-5 minutes, a green tea should be steeped in much cooler water (80°C/185°F) for less time (1-3 minutes).

I steeped Arabian Nights with water heated to the Green Tea setting on my variable temperature kettle (80°C/175°F)

First Taste

Arabian Nights steeps to a nice golden orange. The product page for Arabian Nights suggests that the tea should smell like vanilla and cake, unfortunately I don’t get that experience. However, this tea is delicious in it’s own way. I would describe the steeped tea as having a sweet, fruity aroma. I found that the rose smell kind of mingles in with everything, but isn’t too overpowering. I can just make out the black tea base under the fruity-rose blend of aromas. On first taste, I get a touch of sweetness and can taste the mango, the black tea, and the roses. The tail end of each sip has a remarkable crisp sweetness that reminds me a lot of apples.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Arabian Nights twice (increasing steep time by 30 seconds for each additional steep). For the first resteep, I found that I was getting most black tea and rose in the flavour. That delicious tropical fruit flavour was mostly gone and it was a bit disappointing. I still cannot taste the green tea. For the second resteep, I was still getting mostly black tea and rose. I would say that the first steep is the best.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Fox Tea Club’s Arabian Nights. I think that this tea is really pretty – any tea that includes rosebuds always make me feel a touch more romantic purely because of the addition of rosebuds. For me, the initial steep was the best because it had the most complex flavour profile with the full effect of the tropical fruit, roses, and black tea base. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the ingredients overpowered the green tea leaves that were present, so I couldn’t really taste them. Because of the fruity notes, I think this tea would make an excellent iced tea, if you were so inclined, and that the tea itself was quite good by itself as the fruit flavours added plenty of sweetness by themselves.

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Teavana’s Black Dragon Pearl

Black Dragon Pearl by Teavana
Black Tea / Straight
$15.00 for 2oz

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First Impressions

I’m a bit bummed that Teavana is closing its locations across Canada (and from the rumblings on the internet, I believe the US locations may be closing soon as well), but that didn’t stop me from stopping into a local Teavana location to see what they still had in store. As far as I can tell, they don’t even have a Canadian website anymore and the US website does not deliver to Canadian addresses (whomp, whomp). Anyways, I digress. I saw this one up on the shelf still and was intrigued.

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Black Dragon Pearl is a straight black tea. As per the Teavana website, it says that the pearls each consist of 30 leaves tightly rolled together. I didn’t count them, so I’ll pretend that the number 30 is factually accurate. The product page also suggests that there are cocoa undertones to this tea, which I do not smell at all. The overall aroma from the pearls is an earthiness.

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Preparation

Teavana recommends steeping Black Dragon Pearl in 196°F (91°C)water for 3 minutes. I steeped 3 pearls in my teapot for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Black Dragon Pearl steeps to a beautiful golden orange for the first steep. The aroma that comes up from this tea has primarily earthiness, with a touch of malty aroma and a tiny bit of honeyed sweetness. Thankfully, the tea also had the same flavours that the aroma hinted at. There was earthiness in the flavours that went well with the maltiness that is familiar with black teas. The sips I had of this finished off with a touch of honey and a hint of floral sweetness.

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A Second Cup?

The sales associate at Teavana suggested that the Black Dragon Pearl could be steeped upwards of 3 times, which of course meant that I had to attempt at least an steep (which meant that I did a full 3 resteeps, for a total of 4 steeps of the same leaves). I increased the steeping time by 30 seconds per steep and found that the colouring of the tea was significantly lighter for the first resteep. The floral and honey notes in this tea were more forward in the resteeps than in the initial steep. I still didn’t find any chocolate/cocoa notes in this tea in any of the steeps.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Teavana’s Black Dragon Pearl. I really wish I didn’t love this one because the store is closing, which means I’ll need to get my hands on just a little bit more to keep myself happy until I find another source for a good black pearl tea. The flavours of this tea are delightful, and I love how well it resteeps with the increasing honey and floral flavours. Plus, the big bonus is being able to watch these tea leaves open up – I just love pearl teas.

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Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage by Yunomi
Black Tea / Straight
$7.00USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Remember when I shared my thoughts on Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage? Today’s review is the 2016 Vintage. A year younger and hopefully also tasty? The dry leaf of this one is small pieces, there were a few broken pieces of twigs here and there. No giant leaves to unfurl like in a good oolong, but this black tea has a beautiful smell to it. When I inhaled the aroma from the dry leaf, I got the fragrances of plums and blackberries.

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage is a straight organic black tea from the Takarabako Tea Farm.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage in 90°C (194°F) for 3 to 5 minutes. I did my initial steep for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage steeps to a beautiful golden orange. The aroma that comes from this tea is quite fruity, I can smell plums and a mixture of berries. The taste of aged black tea also has plums and berries, and a light astringency to the tea. Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage is smooth with a light floral taste that mingles well with the plums and berries.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage a total of five times. The first resteep was sweeter than the rest, and the flavours became more plum over berry as the steeps continued. As per usual, I added 30 seconds to each subsequent length of steeping time.

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My Overall Impression

I loved Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage. The development of the flavour profile of this black tea was a delight for the senses. The mix of plums and berries is delicious, and the light astringency isn’t bad. I think it comes off ‘lighter’ as other black teas, and I wouldn’t say this one would replace any standard breakfast tea, but the flavour is really nice and it does an excellent job resteeping over and over again.

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