DavidsTea’s Lemon Cayenne Cleanse

Lemon Cayenne Cleanse by DavidsTea
White Tea / Flavoured
$12.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I went into my local DavidsTea because I saw photos of their new teaware products and just about fell head-over-heels in love with some of their new designs that are part of their Wellness Collection. While I was there, I got to sample some teas (Blueberry Muffin and Lemon Cayenne Cleanse), and I wound up getting Lemon Cayenne Cleanse as part of my Frequent Steeper rewards. Lemon Cayenne Cleanse smells mostly of lemons to me, and I was a bit apprehensive about trying it at first after the salesperson told me that it contained peppers but she reassured me that it wasn’t spicy at all (and she was right!).

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Lemon Cayenne Cleanse consists of: apple, white tea, lime pieces and peel, carrot, rose hip peel, lemon peel, chili peppers, sunflower blossoms, and natural lemon flavouring. The most obviously fragrance from the dry leaf is the lemon/citrus aromas, I can’t smell the chili peppers, apple, white tea base, or any floral aromas from the sunflower blossoms.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping this white tea blend in hot water for 4 to 7 minutes on the packaging. For further details, I always go onto their website to the tea’s product page for more information. Hot water in this instance is 167-176°F (75-80°C). I opted to steep mine at 175°F, which is my Breville IQ Kettle‘s green tea setting (the white tea setting is 185°F), and I steeped Lemon Cayenne Cleanse for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Lemon Cayenne Cleanse steeps to a nice happy yellow. Despite using a stainless steel basket-style infuser (as part of my Tea for One set), I found lot of tea debris in my cup of tea. If that sort of thing bothers you, this is a tea I would recommend steeping in a tea filter bag instead. Ahem, back to the tea now. Lemon Cayenne Cleanse has a very strong lemon aroma to it. It tastes the same to me as when I sampled it in store – there’s a tart lemon flavour, with a touch of sweetness. There’s the warming properties of the pepper with each sip, but I don’t really get much of a spicy kick from this tea. I’m (generally) sensitive to heavy spices, and I usually shy away from things that are spicy, but I found this white tea blend not spicy at all. That said, I also don’t taste the white tea either.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Lemon Cayenne Cleanse twice. The first resteep, done at 4 minutes, the tea was an even brighter yellow, and I found the flavour to be fairly similar. The second resteep, steeped for 5 minutes, wasn’t particularly good. I found it to be watery and didn’t have the same warming properties as the first two steeps. I would say that Lemon Cayenne Cleanse is only good for one more steep.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked DavidsTea’s Lemon Cayenne Cleanse. I really enjoyed the flavour of this white tea blend, I just wish the white tea shined through a bit more. The lemon flavour is really quite delicious, and I greatly enjoyed the warming properties of this tea. That said, I think it is a bit expensive for a tea that can only be reliably resteeped once, and it is quite a bulky tea. If you look at the photo of the dry leaf, it has a lot of large pieces in it – I don’t anticipate getting a lot of pots of tea out of my 50g of Lemon Cayenne Cleanse.

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The Chinese Tea Shop’s Dongting Pi Lo Chun Green Tea

Dongting Pi Lo Chun Green Tea by The Chinese Tea Shop
Green Tea / Straight
$12.95 for 25g

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First Impressions

Dongting Pi Lo Chun Green Tea is also known as Dongting Bi Lo Chun. Bi lo chun means green snail spring, based on the shape of the tea leaves and when the tea leaves were harvested. I picked up this green tea at The Chinese Tea Shop’s vendor booth at the Vancouver Tea Festival. The tea came to me in a resealable plastic bag – clear on one side and white on the other (which isn’t terrible since I keep my tea out of light).

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This straight green tea came from a private farm, located on Dongting Mountain, Jiangsu Province, China. The tea leaves are thin, about 1-2 cm in length. The dark leaves have a slight curl to them, and are covered with feathery white down. The aroma from the dry leaf is primarily that of a light floral fragrance that comes from tea leaves.

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Preparation

While there were no steeping instructions on the packaging, The Chinese Tea Shop website has a tea brewing guide (17 page PDF). For green tea, it’s recommended 75-80°C (167-176°F). For the length of time, the guide assumes everyone is steeping gongfu style – and has times ranging from 6 seconds to 10 seconds. However, I’m not steeping that method. My first steep was for 1 minute with 175°F water (heated in my Breville IQ Kettle with the green tea setting).

First Taste

Dongting Pi Lo Chun Green Tea steeps incredibly pale yellow after the first minute. The initial steep has a very subtle aroma. It’s a light mix of floral, sweetness, and saltiness that I smell.  The tea is smooth, and has an almost grassy flavour to it. There’s a mild saltiness that reminds me of seaweed, with just a hint of floral sweetness at the end of each sip. At the length of time I steeped it for, I noted zero astringency or bitterness.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Dongting Pi Lo Chun Green Tea a total of 5 times (6 steeps total). I kept the water temperature the same and increased the steeping duration for an additional 15 seconds per subsequent steep. I found that the tea got a little bit darker in colour and became a light yellow. The flavour was the most intense by the third steep, but remained the same in terms of complexity and the overall flavour profile.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved The Chinese Tea Shop’s Dongting Pi Lo Chun Green Tea. I wasn’t blown away by the initial steep of this tea, but I would liken it to the dress rehearsal while the subsequent steeps were opening night and there rest of the nightly performances. I found the flavours to be nicely balanced – salty and sweet, floral sweetness versus the umami of the salty seaweed. It resteeps very well, and I quite enjoyed having it again and again. Because of the balance of salty and sweet, I would suggest that this tea could be paired with either a savoury meal or sweets/desserts.

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Golden Tea Leaf’s Ali Mountain Oolong

Ali Mountain Oolong by Golden Tea Leaf
Oolong Tea / Straight
$13.50 for 50g

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Golden Tea Leaf has provided me with Ali Mountain Oolong for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

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Ali Mountain Oolong came to me from Golden Tea Leaf in sample packaging. For those curious, ‘shan’ is Chinese word for mountain (hence – Alishan or Ali Shan is Ali Mountain). This oolong tea was the first place winner at the 2015 North American Tea Championship, so I’m quite excited about trying it!  The sample packet is not resealable, I would say it contained enough oolong for perhaps three steeping sessions.

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Ali Mountain Oolong came to me from Golden Tea Leaf in sample packaging. For those curious, ‘shan’ is Chinese word for mountain (hence – Alishan or Ali Shan is Ali Mountain). This oolong tea was the first place winner at the 2015 North American Tea Championship, so I’m quite excited about trying it!  The sample packet is not resealable, I would say it contained enough oolong for perhaps three steeping sessions.

Preparation

There were no steeping instructions noted on the sample packet, but Golden Tea Leaf does have an instructional page on their website. They recommend steeping in 95°C (203°F) water for 2 minutes (initial steep), followed by 2-5 minutes for each subsequent steep. My initial steep of Ali Mountain Oolong was at 90°C (195°F) for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Ali Mountain Oolong steeps to a very pale yellow for the initial steep. I found that the aroma of this oolong was quite floral. The flavour of the tea itself is sweet, floral, with a bit of a sweet nutty finish at the end of each sip. I found that the tea was smooth, with no bitterness to note. The oolong has a great mouthfeel to it, that’s almost creamy in texture. I eagerly finished off the first infusion of this tea to try it again (and again, and again).

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A Second Cup?

I added an extra 30 seconds per subsequent steep as I resteeped the same leaves. In total, I did seven resteeps of Ali Mountain Oolong (a total of eight steeps with the same leaves). I found that the tea got darker and darker, more of a golden yellow – which hit its peak in colour by steep four of the same leaves. The flavour got stronger as the colour became darker. After the fourth steep, I found that the flavour (and colour) began to get weaker, but it was still quite flavourful and enjoyable, even by the eighth steep.

I poured off some of the tea into a mason jar, which got tucked into my fridge after it cooled to room temperature. I’m happy to also say that this oolong does quite well as an iced tea.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Golden Tea Leaf’s Ali Mountain Oolong. This oolong was a delight to try and to steep repeatedly. The price is quite reasonable for the quality of tea that you get with this Ali Mountain Oolong – the flavour is delicious and the tea leaves can be resteeped over and over again until you completely exhaust the leaves out of flavour. You get a lot of value out of these leaves with the multiple steeps that you can have, which means it is ideal to have over the course of a day.

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Tazo’s Dessert Delights Collection

20180112-tazodessertdelightsVanilla Bean Macaron by Tazo Tea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$2.98USD for 1.11oz  (15 sachets)

Butterscotch Blondie by Tazo Tea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$2.98USD for 1.11oz  (15 sachets)

Glazed Lemon Loaf by Tazo Tea
Herbal Infusion / Flavoured
$2.98USD for 1.11oz  (15 sachets)

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First Impressions

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Tazo reached out to me to send me a little something. Fast forward to mid-December when I received a lovely package in the mail from them – complete with a zippered pouch filled with individually wrapped tea bags of their new Dessert Delights collection (Vanilla Bean Macaron, Butterscotch Blondie, and Glazed Lemon Loaf) along with a few extra teas that are part of their core collection (Zen, Passion, and Green Ginger) and an enameled pin set – aren’t they just sweet?

For the purposes of this post, I’ll be focusing on the Dessert Delights collection teas only and will be discussing them each in the same order throughout each section.

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Vanilla Bean Macaron has a very strong vanilla aroma, but surprisingly does not contain vanilla in the ingredients. The ingredients listed are: black tea, natural flavours, chicory root, cocoa peel, licorice root, roasted yerba mate, cinnamon, and cardamom. I can make out the cinnamon and cardamom, and while the vanilla is delightfully strong, it doesn’t remind me too much of a macaron. (As an aside, on the back of the packaging of each bag, the information for the ingredients and steeping instructions are in white, and they’re a bit difficult to read unless you have excellent lighting.)

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Butterscotch Blondie surprised me a lot by smelling just like a butterscotch candy. Surprisingly, the ingredients listed for this black tea blend is nearly identical to that of Vanilla Bean Macaron. This tea consists of: black tea, natural flavours, chicory root, cocoa peel, licorice root, cinnamon, and cardamom. Just missing the roasted yerba mate and it would have been just the same.

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Glazed Lemon Loaf is the one that surprised me the most. This herbal infusion actually smells like a glazed lemon loaf. It has the citrus and vanilla aromas from the dry leaf, along with what reminds me of the aroma of a sugary glaze. This herbal infusion consists of: apple, natural flavours, green rooibos, orange peel, chamomile, rose petals, licorice root, and ginger.

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Preparation

All three of the blends in the Dessert Delights collection suggests steeping in 212°F (100°C) water for 5 minutes. I steeped the two black tea blends (Vanilla Bean Macaron and Butterscotch Blondie) for 3 minutes each and steeped the herbal infusion (Glazed Lemon Loaf) for 5 minutes.

First Taste

Vanilla Bean Macaron steeps to a deep orange with an unfortunate oil slick across the top. I’m not entirely sure which ingredient this came from (perhaps the ‘natural flavours’?), but I found that the aroma was very much vanilla. It reminds me of the aroma of vanilla cupcakes more than a macaron (although perhaps I just need to become more acquainted with macarons?). The flavour of vanilla isn’t subtle in the steeped tea. I found that the spices (cinnamon, cardamom) to be quite warming while the vanilla was just present. I was able to pick out the yerba mate at the tail end of each sip because it left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.

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Butterscotch Blondie also steeps to a deep orange, but I didn’t notice an oil slick across the top of my cup. I found that the aroma of the steeped tea still screamed ‘butterscotch’ to me, although I didn’t find that to be the case with the flavour. I didn’t really find that it reminded me of a blondie when I steeped it straight, but I found that a tiny addition of sugar and milk actually helped it along to add some creaminess to it.

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Glazed Lemon Loaf steeps to a happy and bright yellow. The aroma that wafts up from this herbal infusion is one of lemony citrus and sweetness. I found the flavour to be enjoyable, the lemon was rather calming (or perhaps that was the chamomile) and the sweetness was just enough. I could taste some heat from the ginger, and I found it to be nice and soothing. I think this tea was fine on its own, but was improved with a touch of honey.

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A Second Cup?

I did attempt to resteep all three of the Dessert Delights, but found that the second steepings of each were watery and diluted compared to the initial steeps. This can often be the case for teas found in tea bags, especially when the quality of the teas (and size of tea leaves) aren’t top notch.

My Overall Impression

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I liked Tazo’s Dessert Delights Collection. I probably wouldn’t keep much of Vanilla Bean Macaron or Butterscotch Blondie around, but I would definitely buy a box or two of Glazed Lemon Loaf because I think it did the best with matching the name to the aroma to the flavour. Plus, the flavour combination makes for an excellent just-before-bed drink (or a I-have-a-sore-throat cuppa).

At the time of writing, I’m not entirely convinced that this collection is available in Canada. I’ve never seen it in stores, and none of the retail sites for Canadian groceries stores seem to have in in stock. However, if you’re in the USA, you’re in luck! The price isn’t bad either, considering you get 15 sachets for less than $3. Not a bad deal if you’re just looking to try it out.

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Necessitea’s Licorice Mint

Licorice Mint by Necessitea
Herbal Infusion / Flavoured
$6.00USD for 2oz

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Necessitea has provided me with Licorice Mint for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Licorice Mint came to me in a resealable silver foil package. I like the minimalist look of the labelling – not too much information on there. The dry leaf has an unmistakeable minty aroma – just the first sniff made me feel as though my sinuses were clear (even though I was not sick when I tried this tea). I’m not entirely sure what licorice root is supposed to smell like – however, I don’t smell anything that reminds me of licorice candy and whatever licorice root is supposed to smell like, it reminds me a bit of lemongrass. Just an overall burst of freshness, although it is overpowered by the mint.

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Licorice Mint consists of licorice root, mint, and rosehips. All three ingredients are quite visible in the dry herbal blend.

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Preparation

There were no preparation instructions on either the packaging of the sample I received or on the product page on the Necessitea website. I opted to steep Licorice Mint at 100°C (212°F) for an initial steep of 4 minutes.

First Taste

Licorice Mint steeps to quite a bright yellow. I found the minty aroma from the steeped herbal infusion to be strong. The flavour of this tisane did not disappoint. Each sip began with the freshness of mint, and tapered off into something a bit citrus-tasting, although I attributed that to the licorice root. There’s a sweetness to this herbal infusion that I wasn’t really expecting. However, I did do some Googling on licorice root and found out that licorice root is actually really sweet and doesn’t taste a thing like the licorice candy! (Lucky for me.) There’s something quite soothing about sipping this tisane that’s quite calming to the senses. I think it’s the combination of the aroma of the steeped tisane and the flavour that’s just very pleasant.

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A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep Licorice Mint and found it to be a very watery version of the first steep, I would say that Licorice Mint is good for one steep only.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Necessitea’s Licorice Mint. I did find myself a bit apprehensive at first, but this was my first exposure to licorice root and I found it surprisingly pleasant. I’m not usually one for herbal infusions, unless it’s fruit based (and iced!), but I did enjoy Licorice Mint. I found the calming effects of just inhaling the aroma of the mint and licorice rot to be quite soothing. It’d be a great drink for late night since it’s naturally caffeine free. I wish it had done decently well for a second steep, since it does smell so good from the initial steep.

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