Arbor Teas’ Silver Needle

Silver Needle by Arbor Teas
White Tea / Straight
$21.00USD for 2oz

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Arbor Teas has provided me with Silver Needle for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Silver Needle came to me from Arbor Teas in a sealed plastic packet. The text on the packaging told me that it was all biodegradable to be environmentally friendly, which I think is really neat. The nice thing about tea is that it is biodegradable, so it is really encouraging when the packaging is as well. Arbor Teas states on their website that they are certified organic.

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Silver Needle is an organic Chinese white tea, with no additional ingredients. The leaves themselves are long and skinny, with the white feathery down on the leaves. They’re quite beautiful to look at. Because of the shape and size of the leaves, it’s quite a bulky amount of tea in this package! There’s a sweet honeyed smell to the dry leaf that’s quite inviting.

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Preparation

Arbor Teas recommends steeping Silver Needle in 180F water for 2-3 minutes. My initial steep of Silver Needle was for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Silver Needle steeps to a very pale yellow that you can almost miss, if you don’t have the best light. The tea itself has a light scent to it, floral and honey is the best way for me to describe it. My first sips were so enjoyable. There’s a lightness to this tea that is the opposite of ‘heavier’ teas (black teas, I’m looking at you!). There is zero astringency, absolutely no bitterness. Silver Needle has a beautiful honeyed flavouring to it that balances well with this light floral flavour. The lightness of this tea makes it easy to drink.

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A Second Cup?

Silver Needle gets darker with each resteep until it gets to be a bright, golden yellow. I resteeped Arbor Teas’ Silver Needle a total of six times (seven steeps overall), adding an additional 30 seconds per steep. The tea gets almost thicker in texture, with an increase in floral-honey taste. Silver Needle is still light and very much enjoyable, despite getting thicker as it gets darker. I found my last steep got to be a little bit lacking in flavour, but I was able to get five resteeps that were a complete joy for the taste buds.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Arbor Teas’ Silver Needle. Such a beautiful tea from the dry leaf to the first (and last) cup. The honey floral flavour of this white tea are delicious, and the capability of this tea to handle steep after steep is a testament to the quality of the young leaves. In a way, this Silver Needle got a little bit more complex in flavour with each steep because it got darker and thicker and just more delicious. I think it would be great as a post-meal tea if you’re looking for something a little sweet, or as a tea to pair up with an afternoon tea that is skewed more heavily to the sweets and pastries over savoury food options.

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TeaHaus’s Victorian Earl Grey

Victorian Earl Grey by TeaHaus
Black Tea / Flavoured
$6.30USD for 50g

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TeaHaus has provided me with Victorian Earl Grey 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 make it no secret that one of my favourite teas is Earl Grey, so I was really excited with TeaHaus sent me a sample of their Earl Grey blend, Victorian Earl Grey. The dry tea is lovely, I love being able to see the lavender buds and rosemary in the tea. The bergamot oil in this tea isn’t overpowering the black tea base, but there is a nice brightness with the bergamot. I can also smell the lavender and the rosemary, which is nice, although I can’t smell the rose blossoms in the dry leaf.

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Victorian Earl Grey consists of: black tea, first-rate bergamot oil, lavender, rosemary, and rose blossoms. All of the ingredients are visible, aside from the bergamot oil.

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Preparation

TeaHaus recommends steeping Victorian Earl Grey in boiling water for 2.5 minutes. As my usual, I used the black tea setting on my variable temperature kettle and used water that was 100C (212F) and I steeped the tea for 2.5 minutes.

First Taste

Victorian Earl Grey steeps to a lovely deep orange colour. There’s a subtle mix of bergamot and floral aromas that waft up from the tea as I poured it into my tea cup and it’s quite inviting. When sipping the tea, there’s a lovely balance in the flavour profile of this Earl Grey. I can’t really make out the rosemary in the steeped tea, which is a bit disappointing since it was noticeable in the dry leaf. However, the lavender/floral notes are quite strong in the steeped tea and it balances very well with the bright citrus notes from the bergamot oil. I found that the black tea base played a good supporting role to this tea blend – there was no bitterness or astringency noted in the steeped tea.

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I often doctor up my Earl Grey and I made no exception for this tea. I tried it with honey, which helped to really brighten up the bergamot and lavender flavours. I also made it into a tea latte (London Fog) and it made a great base for a London Fog. The lavender was significantly toned down compared to the bergamot oil after the addition of milk, which was very nice and I do tend to prefer my London Fogs without lavender. I make my tea lattes at home without any fancy frothers or equipment, check out my post about making lattes at home.

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A Second Cup?

I did resteep Victorian Earl Grey three times (four steeps overall). I found for the subsequent steeps that the flavours were very similar to the initial steep for the first two resteeps, although the second resteep was a bit weaker. I found the third resteep to be weakest overall and would recommend two resteeps for this Earl Grey blend.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved TeaHaus’s Victorian Earl Grey. I am very fond for Earl Grey, so I am a little bit picky about it. I generally don’t like lavender in my Earl Grey, but I did find this one to be quite palatable. The floral notes were not over powering the bergamot, which is one of my favourite qualities of a cup of Earl Grey, so it was quite good. The balance of floral and citrus notes make it a tasty cup of tea. I love that the tea holds well with being modified a little bit, what with honey and milk. I do think this tea benefits from a sweetener as it helps brighten up the flavours added into this tea blend.

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DavidsTea’s Happy Valley Darjeeling

Happy Valley Darjeeling by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Straight
$14.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

When I found out that DavidsTea was getting a new collection of straight teas in, I was curious. I’m a sucker for a good straight tea so when I walked into my local DavidsTea shop I asked to smell all of them (there are three) and then I went ahead and bought a small bag of each. The nice thing about living locally to a DavidsTea location is that I don’t have to purchase a full 50g of each tea (like I would if I was ordering online).

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Happy Valley Darjeeling is an organic black tea from Darjeeling, India. As per the product page, DavidsTea describes the tea as a second flush tea from Happy Valley, a tea estate in Darjeeling with a long, rich history of producing tea. First flush is tea harvested in mid-March while second flush is harvested in June. The tea leaves of Happy Valley Darjeeling have a very bright fruity smell to it, I mostly smell fruity tones that remind me of stone fruits (like plums).

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Preparation

DavidsTea’s packaging suggests steeping this in “near-boiling water” for 4 to 7 minutes. Their website suggests that near-boiling is 90-95°C (194-203°F). I did my initial steep at the recommended water temperature for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Happy Valley Darjeeling steeps to a beautiful golden orange, there’s a great aroma that wafts up from the tea that reminds me a lot of plums still. There’s a bit of sweetness to this steeped tea that can be smelled. On first sip, I note that the tea is a bit astringent. It’s not overpowering the overall flavour of the tea, so it’s still quite palatable. The plum notes are soft, with the natural fruity sweetness of this tea. The plum notes are delicious, and play well with the astringency in this steeped tea.

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A Second Cup?

As Happy Valley Darjeeling is a straight tea, I couldn’t help myself when it came to resteeping this tea. I steeped the leaves again at the same temperature of water, just adding an additional 30 seconds per each subsequent steep. I did a total of three resteeps (four steeps overall) before the flavour started to really be a ghost of what the initial steep resembled. The astringency doesn’t mellow with additional resteeps, and the sweet plum notes held up well until the last steep that I did. I would suggest doing a maximum of two resteeps for this straight black tea.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked DavidsTea’s Happy Valley Darjeeling. I think as a straight tea, the flavours are nice. The sweet plum flavours mix very well with the astringency in this black tea, and the tea leaves hold up well for a few resteeps to get more flavour and value out of the leaves. I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to get more steeps out of these leaves, but I found that the steeped leaves were quite broken up once they had opened up and I could see that they weren’t whole leaves. For the price, I would have expected a few more steeps, but the tea itself is quite good for the steeps that I did do with it. I think the plum sweetness is a delight for the taste buds, and this tea doesn’t need additional sweetener (although that may help to temper the astringency if that isn’t your cup of tea).

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TeaHaus’s China Milky Jade

China Milky Jade by TeaHaus
Oolong Tea / Flavoured
$14.60USD for 50g

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TeaHaus has provided me with China Milky Jade for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

China Milky Jade is TeaHaus’s milk oolong. Described as “premium oolong classic”, milk oolong is produced by infusing it the tea leaves with milk flavor (and, from the description on the sample label, done via a steam bath). China Milky Jade has a very nice aroma to it – very milky, creamy, almost a hint of butter. But mostly it’s the milk and cream qualities that shine through in this tea when I opened up the bag. There’s a soft floral scent to the tea as well, but the hints of flowers take a backseat to the milk aroma in this oolong.

China Milky Jade is an oolong tea with milk flavouring infused to it via the process of tea production.

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Preparation

TeaHaus recommends steeping China Milky Jade in 90°C (194°F) water for 2 minutes. My initial steep of China Milky Jade was in 90°C water for 2 minutes.

First Taste

China Milky Jade steeps to a pale yellow for the initial steep. The aroma of milk is very fragrant in this tea. This milk oolong is very smooth with no bitterness or astringency to note. I quite enjoyed the milk flavour of this oolong – it’s got a lovely smooth texture, and has a buttery taste from the cream/milk flavours. There are some mild floral notes to this tea, but I find that the dairy is more prominent in comparison. The floral flavours of this oolong add just a hint of sweetness, but it’s not the most obvious flavour of this tea.

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A Second Cup?

I love resteeping oolong because they generally do very well. China Milky Jade did not disappoint. On subsequent resteeps, I add an additional 30 seconds per steep and the tea comes out a brighter, more vibrant shade of yellow. In total, I resteeped China Milky Jade a total of nine times (ten steeps overall). I found as I got further in, the dairy notes begin to fade and the light floral sweetness comes out more and more. I would say this oolong did get to be a bit watered down by the seventh resteep (eighth overall steep), but it’s still got a hint of flavour.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved TeaHaus’s China Milky Jade. I was very impressed with how well China Milky Jade resteeped. It’s a delicious oolong with great dairy flavouring to it. I found that the subtle switch in the flavour profile to be delicious as it began to be less dairy and more floral. The leaves opened up tremendously and it was a great tea to enjoy. This is definitely a tea that deserves the time to be steeped again and again. I feel this tea would go well with both sweets and savoury dishes because of the milky and floral flavours.

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Yunomi’s Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha

Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha by Yunomi
Green Tea / Straight
$25.00USD for 50g

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Yunomi has provided me with Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

By now, I’m sure you know I’m a sucker for good packaging. Yunomi doesn’t disappoint. Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha came to me in a sealed white foil bag that is resealable to keep the tea fresh. The label on the front is quite informative, with information regarding how much tea to use, water temperature, what to do if steeping for multiple people, ingredients, where the tea was grown (and when!), and storage information.

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When I opened the packet, I was immediately drawn into the tea because of the strong vegetal smell. It reminded me a bit of grass, as well as having salty aroma to remind me also of seaweed. The leaves are a bright and dark green and very flat. Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha consists of certified organic green tea that was harvested in April 2016 in Kirishima, Kagoshima. Storage instructions for this sencha is to have it in airtight storage, in a cool, dry area away from sunlight.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends the first steep in 50°C (122°F) water for 2-3 minutes. For subsequent steeps, the recommendation is to use 70-80°C (158-176°F) water for 30-60 seconds. My initial steep of Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha was for 2 minutes in 50°C water.

First Taste

Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha steeps to a very pale light greeny yellow, as to be expected with a green tea. When steeped for the two minutes, I found the sencha to be very smooth – there’s no bitterness or astringency. Green tea is so easily burnt when steeped in water that is too hot or for too long, I’m glad that Yunomi’s steeping instructions were right on the button for a good cup of tea. There’s a good balance of natural sweetness and saltiness in this tea, a nice mixture that results in a good cup of tea. Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha has a lovely buttery quality to the flavour of this tea, which balances out the sweet and salty well and holds its own in this tea. I generally find sencha to have a natural saltiness to the tea, but a good one is never off-putting.

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A Second Cup?

Yunomi suggests that this tea can be resteeped up to three times, which meant that I had to push it for a fourth. I followed their steeping instructions with the resteep temperatures and times (I used the ‘green tea’ feature on my Breville IQ Kettle, which is 175°F). The flavour of this tea remains consistently the same in terms of taste and intensity for the first three resteeps, the fourth resteep (first one beyond the recommended number of steeps) was a bit lacking in flavour. Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha resteeps well and holds up to the recommended number of steeps by Yunomi.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Yunomi’s Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha. It’s a quality sencha and resteeps amazingly well. I found that the flavours are good in this traditional Japanese green tea, and the sweet-salty flavour balances out well with the buttery quality of the overall flavour profile. Because of the salty nature of this tea, its quite savoury and I think it would pair well with a meal over dessert.

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