Citizen Tea’s Milk Oolong

Milk Oolong by Citizen Tea
Oolong Tea / Flavoured
$10.50 for 50g

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Citizen Tea has provided me with Milk 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 love a good oolong, so I was really excited that one of the teas that Citizen Tea sent me was their Milk Oolong. I’ve had a few milk oolongs in the past and I really love the creamy and buttery flavour that a lot of them have. When I opened up this sample packet, I smelled a floral fragrance first followed by a scent that reminds me a lot of condensed milk. If you’ve never had condensed milk, it’s a sweetened and thickened milk that comes out of a can. It’s delicious, and it’s a bit of a treat to have (and so good – bad for me because I have an epic sweet tooth!). Sweet, floral, and milk scents. It’s an interesting combination because the floral aromatics are stronger than the milk fragrances, which I feel should be the opposite given that it is a milk oolong.

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The ingredients in Milk Oolong are described as oolong tea and flavouring. Natural flavouring? Artificial flavouring? I do wish there was a bit more information about the flavouring that went into this tea. Naturally, I assume that it is some kind of milk/dairy flavouring. If I was lactose intolerant I would have steered clear of this one though, without more information. Thankfully, I am not so I went ahead with steeping this flavoured oolong.

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Preparation

Citizen Tea recommends steeping Milk Oolong for 3 to 4 minutes in 90°C (194°F) water. I did my initial steep of Milk Oolong at 3 minutes.

First Taste

Milk Oolong steeps to a pale yellow. I found that the dry tea aromatic mixture of floral and condensed milk followed through to the steeped tea. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste as floral as it smells (a bonus since I wasn’t really expecting flowery notes in a milk oolong). The condensed milk flavours do carry over fairly well, and it has an aftertaste that reminds me of artificial sweeteners (like stevia). I’m not a huge fan of artificial sweeteners, as I prefer to add my own to teas, but it’s not incredibly off-putting. There is a bit of a buttery cream quality to this tea, although the taste of condensed milk does ring more true than a cream/buttery flavour.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Milk Oolong quite a few times (seven resteeps in total). I found that the flavour of this oolong drastically improved by the second resteep (third overall steep). The artificial sweetener aftertaste was gone, and the flavours were more in line with what I expect in a milk oolong (buttery, cream, mild sweetness). The floral fragrance became a distant memory, and I found that the straight milk flavours gave way to the buttery goodness.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Citizen Tea’s Milk Oolong. I was not a huge fan of the first two steeps that I did of this tea – there was too much artificial sweetener taste, and the floral aromatics of the dry leaf weren’t appealing to me. However, once I steeped the leaves a couple of times, the flavours began to change to what I was looking for in a milk oolong – butter and cream. If you’re not into the artificial sweeteners, I would recommend steeping (and pouring out) the first two steeps of this oolong and then drinking the rest. Luckily, this tea resteeps very well (I did 8 steeps total with the same leaves), so there is still a lot of flavour left even if you discard the first two steeps.

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DavidsTea’s Tea the North

Tea the North by DavidsTea
White Tea / Flavoured
$10.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I was at my local DavidsTea and I asked my friendly neighbourhood tea pusher what the new tea was and he told me that it was Tea the North. Now, I know DavidsTea already has a maple syrup tea called Oh Canada! so I wasn’t really expecting something similar, but still was expected something with some maple influences, or something else that screamed ‘Canada’ to me. What I smelled instead was a lot of coconut and pineapple. Instant recoil from the container holding the sample that I was just smelling because it just did not make sense.

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Tea the North consists of: melon, pineapple, coconut, white tea, hibiscus, sweet blackberry leaves, apple, rose petals, rhubarb, safflower blossoms, and natural flavouring. He had rattled off the list of ingredients to me and I must have looked confused because then he told me that most of the ingredients were white or red. Oh. I suppose that makes sense? But coconut and pineapple does not scream Canada to me – it makes me think of pina coladas (and getting caught in the rain). Nevertheless, I wanted to try a bit of this white tea blend because I’m a bleeding heart (and Canada Day is one of my upmost favourite holidays).

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Tea the North in hot water for 4 to 7 minutes. For those interested, “hot water” is defined on the product page as being 167-176°F or 75-80°C. I did an initial steep of 5 minutes in 175°F water.

First Taste

Tea the North steeps to a bright red – which did not surprise me given the fact that the blend includes hibiscus, rhubarb, and safflower blossoms. The taste of this tea is… interesting? There’s sweetness to it that comes from the fruit (melon, pineapple, apple), and a touch of tartness (from the hibiscus and possibly the rhubarb). I think I would describe this as being primarily coconut and artificial flavouring. The coconut flavour is heavy in this white tea blend, and there’s just something about it that lingers on my tongue that I just do not like. I’m not sure if it is the flavouring in this tea, or maybe just the combination of flavours, but coconut takes center stage and all the other ingredients (aside from adding a touch of sweetness or tartness) stay in the background – the far, far background.

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A Second Cup?

I didn’t really want to, but I did resteep Tea the North. The second time around was not an improvement on the first, I’m afraid. Is it possible for coconut to strengthen in flavour? Because that’s what it seemed to do here. The mix of sweet and tart was incredibly muted this time around, and I felt like it was just coconut again, with an odd aftertaste that seemed sour to me.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Tea the North. I wanted to at least love this tea blend, because I’m a sucker for all things Canada and with the impending 150th birthday (tomorrow/July 1st), I really wanted to love this tea. I think it’s cute that they did a blend of primarily red and white ingredients instead of doing maple (again), but I feel like it really missed its mark. The aroma of coconut and pineapple don’t make me think of Canada at all, and the tea itself was a bit of fail in the flavor department.

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Pure Leaf’s Gunpowder Green Tea

Gunpowder Green Tea by Pure Leaf
Green Tea / Straight
$8.99 for 165g

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First Impressions

The thing that intrigued me the most about Pure Leaf coming out with bagged tea and loose leaf tea is that I’m used to seeing their products in the cold drinks section of convenience stores and grocery stores. I picked up the Gunpowder Green Tea at a local grocery store – from a quick online search I’ve found that Pure Leaf’s products are readily available in most major grocery retailers. Because it’s a new product, I picked up a jar that had a coupon attached to it (for an extra $2 off at the till).

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Gunpowder Green Tea comes in a plastic jar. The label states that it is a single origin tea from Indonesia. This is a straight tea, where the only ingredient is simply green tea. Oddly enough, the instructions on the back of the jar states “Store in a cool, dry and dark place.” This is easy to do, but the jar is clear. While I can understand wanting consumers to see the product (because those tea leaves look great), the clear jar does not help with their own storage instructions. I’ll be nestling this tea in the middle of my tea cart, surrounded by other tea jars and tins.

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The dry leaf of Gunpowder Green Tea has a very subtle flavour. It’s not overwhelming to the say the least. There’s a vegetal aroma to it with a mixture of what reminds me of seaweed. The tea leaves are beautifully rolled and coiled together. They are almost a dusty green-grey colour to me.

Preparation

Pure Leaf recommends using freshly boiled water and to steep for 3 minutes. My first attempt at steeping this tea was with boiling water (100°C/212°F) for 3 minutes, my second attempt was at 80°C/175°F for 3 minutes.

First Taste

When I followed the steeping instructions from Pure Leaf, this straight green tea was remarkably bitter. The tea itself has a savoury taste to it – heavy on the vegetal flavours but so incredibly bitter. It made me pull a face when I sipped it and honestly, I cannot recommend it when prepared the way that Pure Leaf recommends. Absolutely undrinkable when steeped with boiling water.

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I started over with new tea leaves, and steeped the tea leaves for the same length of time but with cooler water. The result was a savoury cup of tea, light on the vegetal flavours but not bitter. When steeped at 80°C, Gunpowder Green Tea is light and has a smooth mouthfeel to it. There’s a slight saltiness to the tea that makes me feel like it’d go well with a meal.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Gunpowder Green Tea a few times (at the lower water temperature) and found that it did well with being resteeped! The leaves open up a lot, and the flavour of this tea doesn’t change very much. I resteeped the same leaves a total of four times.

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My Overall Impression

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I thought that Pure Leaf’s Gunpowder Green Tea was just okay. If you’re going to steep this tea – please do not follow their steeping instructions, I think you’ll be sorely disappointed if you do. This tea does a lot better when steeped at a lower temperature. I think it’d even do well either cold steeped or sun steeped as the tea leaves won’t be burned like they were with boiling water. What I like about the tea is that it’s easy to find in stores, and they resteep well! It’s not going to be a green tea that I reach for on a daily basis, but it does taste okay and would do beautifully paired with a meal because the flavour profile lends itself to being savoury.

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Citizen Tea’s White Cranberry

White Cranberry by Citizen Tea
White Tea / Flavoured
$11.00 for 50g

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

First Impressions

This is the first of a few reviews from Citizen Tea, which I was really excited to receive in the mail. White Cranberry was the first I tried because I was feeling like having something light – which I typically find white teas to be light. This white tea blend consists of: white tea, bamboo leaves, snow white tea, pomegranate leaves, and flavouring.

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The description of this tea on Citizen Tea’s website states that there are cranberry blossoms in it somewhere (perhaps that is in the flavouring?). This tea smells amazing, I’m not going to lie. It has a very bright, fruity smell to it. The smell reminds me exactly of dried sweetened cranberries – do you know what craisins smell like? It’s just like that, and I love craisins so it’s a great smell to me.

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Preparation

Citizen Tea recommends steeping this white tea blend in 80°C (176°F) water for 2-3 minutes. The initial steep I did of White Cranberry was for 2 minutes in 175°F water, because that is the white tea setting on my Breville IQ Kettle.

First Taste

White Cranberry steeps to a lovely yellow colour, it smells strongly of cranberries. On first taste, the flavour of the tea is muted compared to the fragrance of the steeped tea. I find that the tea has a mild sweetness, even though it does smell a lot steeper than it actually is. The white tea base isn’t overpowered by the fruity taste. I do think it tastes like cranberries, with a hint of something else that reminds me a bit of raspberries. I find the tea itself to be smooth and free of bitterness. It’s enjoyable, and two minutes was a good length of tea time.

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A Second Cup?

I steeped White Cranberry a second time (for 2 minutes 30 seconds) and I found the colour was signficiantly lighter. The taste of this white tea blend was considerably more tea base and less cranberry. The base itself is delicious – it has a very mild sweetness with light vegetal taste to it. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of berry flavours the second time around, but it was a bit of a treat to be exposed to the white tea base in this blend.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Citizen Tea’s White Cranberry. I really liked it during the first steep – the fruity taste of the cranberries in this white tea blend is delicious. I think it smells really good (both dry leaf and steeped), but I do wish that it resteeped a little bit better. That said, the price of this tea quite reasonable for a white tea blend. I find white teas are generally more expensive, and the price point of this tea (and others) on the Citizen Tea website are quite competitive. I think White Cranberry works really well for the first steep, if you’re in love with the fruity taste. The second steep is a good experience with the white tea, I just wish that the cranberry taste carried over better – but both steeps are good.

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Cold Steeping vs. Sun Steeping

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All tea drinkers know the usual steeping formula: tea leaves + hot water = tea! But what about cold steeping (also referred to as cold brewing) or sun steeping? I decided to do a little experiment!

I used DavidsTea’s Honeycrisp Apple because it’s a tea that I love hot or cold, and I also had enough to complete this experiment. I use about 1.5x the usual amount of tea leaves that I would use for my regular steeping method. The amount of tea you use is entirely up to you. The benefits to both of these steeping methods is that you don’t run into the issue of bitter or oversteeped tea. Part of the reason why some teas are so tempermental is that they are sensitive to high temperatures and long steep times.

Cold Steeping/Cold Brewing

I put 2 spoonfuls of the tea into a mason jar and filled it up with room temperature water. The lid goes on, and I put it into the fridge. I started the process at 11pm and strained the tea leaves out at 9am. Total steep time: 10 hours.

Sun Steeping

I put 2 spoonfuls of the tea into a mason jar and filled it up with room temperature water. The lid goes on, and I put it out onto my patio in direct sunlight. I started the process at 11am and finished it at 3pm. Total steep time: 4 hours.

Most online references I found for sun steeping or sun steeped tea says to limit steeping between 3 to 5 hours.

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How does it taste?

For both jars of tea, I used a strainer to capture all of the tea leaves. What I was left with was two jars of tea.

The cold steeped tea was a nice, sweet tea, it smells just like the dry leaf and has a nice sweet taste that was almost as if I had added sugar or honey (except I hadn’t).

The sun steeped tea was considerably stronger in aroma – the apple flavour was quite fragrant. The flavours are stronger, brighter, but not quite as sweet.

I think the cold steeped tea requires less cooperative weather, I’m not sure how well it would fare if there was a bit of overcast as I picked a fairly sunny day that had highs of 22°C (~72°F). Cold steeping is something that’s easy to do if you do it the night before. Say you wanted iced tea for a party, just set up a pitcher and put it into the fridge. This is easiest if you have drawstring tea bags so you won’t have to strain out the tea later.

Both methods result in bitter-free tea, which is great since I did pick a tea blend that has a green tea base. This would be great with any type of tea since it won’t burn the tea leaves during the steeping process. I think both methods would be great for iced tea, just add some cubes after you’ve strained the tea.