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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High Noon Tea Co.’s Maple Smoke

Maple Smoke by High Noon Tea Co.
Black Tea / Flavoured
$11.00 for 50g

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High Noon Tea Co.’s Maple Smoke came to me as part of The Sugared Teacup’s June themed subscription box.

First Impressions

I should have known from the name of the tea that this was some sort of lapsang souchong, but do I ever listen to myself? (The answer is sometimes.) If you’re not familiar with it, lapsang souchong is a black tea that’s been smoked so it has a very strong smokey aroma and flavour to it.

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If you’ve ever wanted to drink a campfire, lapsang souchong is the tea for you.

Maple Smoke is a black tea that consists of: black tea, natural smoke flavour, safflower petals, and real maple syrup. I love maple syrup, and I think that’s one of the reasons why Deb picked this one to go into a Canadiana themed tea box. This tea smells incredibly strong of smoke. It reminds me of campfires and all the fun things to do with Girl Guides. Unfortunately for the tea, I don’t smell the maple syrup at all.

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Preparation

High Noon Tea Co. recommends steeping Maple Smoke in 100°C (212°F) water for 3 to 7 minutes or to taste. My initial steep of Maple Smoke was for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Maple Smoke steeps to a beautiful golden red and it smells both smokey and sweet (which I will be attributing to the maple syrup). The taste of this tea is, without a doubt, smokey. It’s got a nice smoothness to it in terms of texture, but the overall taste of it is strongly of smoke. I don’t really taste the maple syrup in this because the smoke is so overpowering as a flavour.

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I did attempt to doctor up this tea with a bit of sweetener (I used honey because I didn’t have maple syrup on hand) and some evaporated milk. The milk helps to tone down the smokey flavour, but doesn’t cut it down to the point where I can make out the maple syrup.

A Second Cup?

I did attempt to resteep Maple Smoke, and found the flavour to remain the same – all smoke and no maple syrup.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like High Noon Tea Co.’s Maple Smoke. If you’re a fan of lapsang souchong teas, this one will probably suit you a lot more than it suits me! I wasn’t a fan of the smokey flavour, because it made the tea taste very one dimensional. While I could smell the maple syrup after the tea had been steeped, I wasn’t able to taste it because the flavour of the smoke was so overpowering compared to the rest of the ingredients. If it had been less smokey, I might have enjoyed it a little bit more. If you’re trying this tea out and find it too smokey, a bit of milk or cream goes a long way to cutting down the smokey aroma and flavours.

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Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage by Yunomi
Black Tea / Straight
$8.00USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

I was a little it surprised by how big this sample was, especially in comparison to the other 20g samples I received from Yunomi from the Takarabako Tea Farm (Shimane Oolong and Shimane Sencha Ou Midori). This black tea is aged at low temperatures and it’s a straight tea, so the only ingredient is black tea.

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The pieces are surprisingly small, with some tiny sticks mixed in with the leaves. There’s a slightly sweet aroma from the dry leaves that reminds me a bit of dried apricots.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage at 90°C (194°F) for 3-5 minutes. My initial steep of this tea was at 4 minutes.

First Taste

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage steeps to a deep orange. There’s a malty aroma that comes up from the tea when I poured it from my teapot to my cup. I found this tea to have a smooth mouthfeel to it when drinking it, and the malty aroma transfers into a malty flavour. There’s a touch of sweetness in the steeped tea that manages to make itself known with the malty flavours. I found that there’s a bit of a sour aftertaste with this tea, which reminds me a lot of Assam with the maltiness and sourness in that tea’s flavour profile.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage twice – I found that the colour was a lot lighter with the first resteep, and even lighter still for the second. The malty flavour of this aged black tea is robust enough to hold strong for each resteep, and the slightly sour aftertaste eases up after the initial steep, making the subsequent steeps more ideal (in my mind).

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage. This aged black tea has a strong flavour profile of maltiness that would do well to replace any breakfast tea if you needed a tea that’s even stronger in the morning. Because of the Assam-like qualities, I think it could handle being doctored up with some sweetener or cream. I was more fond of the second steep than I was of the first, because the sour aftertaste was more subdued. I enjoyed this one and think it has its place at an afternoon tea party if you wanted to branch away from the standard Earl Grey.

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