Pluck’s The Canada 150 Blend

The Canada 150 Blend by Pluck
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.00 for 50g

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Pluck’s The Canada 150 Blend came to me as part of The Sugared Teacup’s July themed subscription box.

First Impressions

I’ve always been a sucker for good packaging, and Pluck does pass the test in that regard. A simple foil-and-plastic bag, it does the trick to keep the tea from getting stale due to exposure to air. The nice thing is that there is some of the tea that is visible on the clear side, so you can see what you’re getting. I really like the themed label – the red and white with the maple leaves just scream Canada to me, so it’s really nice to see.

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The Canada 150 Blend is made up of: black tea, sunflower petals, safflower petals, and natural flavouring. According to the product page on the Pluck website, the ‘natural flavouring’ is “natural caramel cream flavouring”. The smell of the dry leaf is primarily the black tea base. The tea has a sweetened aroma to it, which I’ll chalk up to the added flavouring, while the black tea base reminds me a lot of a straight breakfast tea – it’s generally has a bold, strong aroma to it that has just a hint of malty flavour in the fragrance.

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Preparation

Pluck recommends steeping The Canada 150 Blend in 100°C (212°F) water for 5 to 7 minutes. I honestly thought 7 minutes was a bit much, so my initial steep was for just 5 minutes.

First Taste

The Canada 150 Blend steeps to a really nice golden red, the colour was more intense in my teapot than in my teacup for sure. It has a nice malty aroma to it that was quite inviting. On first sip, I’m really glad that I did not opt to steep for the upper end of the recommended steep time (7 minutes) because I found that the aftertaste of each sip to be on the just a little bit bitter side. This tea could probably stand to be steeped for a shorter amount of time (perhaps 4 minutes?), just to avoid that aftertaste. I would describe this black tea blend as being strong – it has quite a bold, malty flavour to it, with just a hint of astringency in each sip. I would liken it to being very similar to a traditional English Breakfast tea. The one thing that does set it apart is just a touch of creamy sweetness that blends in well with the malty flavour. I think we can thank the caramel flavouring for that.

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I tried this tea also with some added honey and evaporated milk – the honey helped bring out more of the flavouring out of the caramel, and the milk helped to temper the bitter aftertaste. All in all, I think the tea accepts a bit of help quite easily and it makes for a tastier cup of tea if you accidentally oversteep it.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped The Canada 150 Blend twice (three steeps total). I found the flavouring to be fairly similar to the first steep for the first resteep, but the flavour just fell flat for the second resteep. Overall, I would say that The Canada 150 Blend is good for one more steep.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Pluck’s The Canada 150 Blend. I love all things Canadiana, so it’s probably not too big of a surprise that I did like this tea. I’m always a fan of solid black teas, and this one has a bit of a twist to it (with the caramel flavouring), but I found that it held up really well to the addition of sweetener and some evaporated milk. I think if you’re a fan of breakfast teas, you’ll probably like this one as well – it has a strong, bold flavour profile. It’d be a good tea to replace your morning cup of coffee with, or to serve with an afternoon tea if you’re looking to change things up from the tea time staple of Earl Grey. This black tea blend smells amazing, and it does taste quite good. I would just recommend watching the steep times (try 4 minutes and go up from there, I think you’d be woefully disappointed if you started at 7 minutes).

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Gold Peak Tea’s Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea

Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea by Gold Peak Tea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$2.97 for 1.75L

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First Impressions

Gold Peak Tea appeared in my local grocery store and I was curious – mostly because it’s a tea product and I’m all about the tea. I was a little bit cautious though, because I can be a bit particular about my teas and a product like this isn’t something that I can play around with to really tweak and modify to my liking. That said, I decided to give their Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea a try – mostly because it was on sale.

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Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea is made up of: tea (filtered water, brewed tea concentrate), cane sugar, natural flavour, citric acid, and potassium citrate. Not a terribly long list of ingredients, which is nice to see in a prepared product. As a bonus, the label does mention that this product doesn’t contain preservatives or added colours. Oh, and this iced tea has to be kept refrigerated.

First Taste

Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea has a nice colour to it, I can definitely tell that the brewed tea concentrate that they used is a black. The aroma of this tea is all lemon, which isn’t to surprising considering the name of the tea. The lemon flavour is very bright, and the tea itself isn’t as sweet as I expected. The cane sugar has just enough sweetness to cut the lemon to the point where you can taste the lemon and it isn’t making your mouth pucker. The tea base itself has a slight malty flavour to it, which makes me wonder if they used an Assam as the base. It’s smooth going down, and it does well in a pinch if you’re craving some iced tea.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Gold Peak Tea’s Natural Lemon Flavour Iced Tea. It’s not too sickeningly sweet, and it’s nice to see a product on the shelf that isn’t full of high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. I would have liked to have more information about the tea itself on the packaging, although I’m 99% sure that it’s a black tea base in this bottle. I think it’s a great iced tea if you’re looking for something on the go or if you’re not confident in your iced tea steeping skills. The balance of sweetness from the cane sugar to the lemon in this tea are quite good, especially since neither overpower the tea base which I really like. I’m still a huge fan of making my own iced teas at home, I like being able to make a wider variety of iced tea flavours and there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the flavours of this iced tea because it’s a fully prepared product. That said, I think it is delicious. One of the reasons that I probably won’t buy too much of it is because the bottle does take up a lot of real estate in my fridge. If it was shelf-stable and I could keep some in my pantry to save for when I’m feeling lazy, I think that would be a total game changer.

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DavidsTea’s Quince Charming

Quince Charming by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I picked this up at my local DavidsTea because it was marked down – I’m a sucker for new-to-me teas that are on sale. Quince Charming is said to be both hot and iced, as per the company that sells this black tea blend, so I’ll give both temperature extremes a try. When I opened the bag, the first thing I smell is the sweet smells of apples and pears. There’s some mild floral notes, and a brightness to the fruity aromas that reminds me a lot of lychees.

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Quince Charming is made up of apple, black tea, sweet blackberry leaves, hibiscus, apple pomace, quince, and natural quince flavouring. You can see quite a bit of the ingredients in the dry leaf. Quince often smells, to me at least, like pears, so I think that’s where the pear aroma was coming from.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Quince Charming in near-boiling water for 4 to 7 minutes, near-boiling is 194-203°F (90-95°C). I steeped my pot of Quince Charming was close to 5 minutes for the initial steep.

First Taste

Quince Charming smells quite strongly of apples in the steeped tea. It’s a bright orange-red colour that is lovely to look at. When I smell the tea, the floral aroma is still very much present, and the apple fragrance is strong. I don’t really smell the pear/quince flavours that I noted in the dry leaf. On first sip of this black tea blend, I note that it’s quite tart. I think that’s to do with the hibiscus. There’s a certain amount of mouthpucker that I feel that this fruity-floral black tea blend lends itself to because of the ingredients. There’s a certain mix of tart and sour that reminds me a lot of sour candy. The floral notes in this tea are a bit overwhelming when the tea is hot, it almost seems a but perfume-y to me – just too much floral.

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I did pour a second cup over some ice cubes and found that the lower temperature helped to tone down the floral flavour. The tartness/sourness was a bit more palatable when the tea is cooler. I definitely liked Quince Charming better iced than hot.

A Second Cup?

Quince Charming did a remarkably poor job with being resteeped. The flavours were watered down and tasted nothing like the initial steep that I did of this fruity black tea blend. I would say that Quince Charming is not good for one more steep.

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My Overall Impression

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I thought that DavidsTea’s Quince Charming was just okay. I did not like this tea hot at all – the floral notes were overwhelming and it was far too tart and sour for me, I can’t imagine how it would have tasted if I had left it to steep for a full 7 minutes! That said, Quince Charming does quite well as an iced tea. A bit of sweetener would help to balance out the tartness, but having it iced helps as well. Unfortunately, this tea does badly at being resteeped, so there’s no added value there. I find that it reminded me quite a bit of Honeycrisp Apple (an apple green tea blend from DavidsTea), but with some minor changes in ingredients. Between the two apple tea blends, I would opt for Honeycrisp Apple over Quince Charming.

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Arbor Tea’s Nepal Black

Nepal Black by Arbor Teas
Black Tea / Straight
$15.50USD for 2.5oz

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

First Impressions

Nepal Black comes in the now-familiar environmentally friendly packaging that is compost ready. With a quick snip of the scissors across the top, the tea leaves spilled out because there was just so much of it! The leaves of Nepal Black are wiry – dark twisted leaves with golden yellow tips. The lighter parts of the leaves still have the visibly downy ‘feathery’ parts to the leaves.

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Nepal Black is an organic Nepalese black tea. The leaves are beautiful in this tea. The dry tea leaves of Nepal Black have a rich honey and brown sugar smell to it, the combination remind me a bit of molasses.

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Preparation

Arbor Teas recommends steeping Nepal Black in 212°F (1oo°C) water for 3-5 minutes. My initial steep of this organic black tea was for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Nepal Black’s initial step yields a lovely golden orange cup of tea. The aroma of this tea is strongly of honey and brown sugar – what a sweet combination. The taste of Nepal Black isn’t as sweet as the aroma led me to believe. It has a very strong flavour – reminds me a lot of breakfast teas in how strong it is (fans of English or Irish Breakfast teas will know what I’m talking about). It’s a full-bodied flavour that is matched with a touch of astringency that I often find with strong black teas. The honey and brown sugar flavours are present, albeit not as strong as the just overall strength of the black tea – it has a great mouthfeel to it and is just overall very strong. I think it could be tempered down with some cream or milk, if you were one of those people that like to doctor up your tea.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Nepal Black a few times (four resteeps in total), with an additional 30 seconds in steeping time for each subsequent steep. I found that the colour of this tea kept getting darker, becoming a beautiful amber colour as it steeped. The overall flavour of Nepal Black could be described in a word: robust. It’s very strong, the astringency did get stronger as I continued steeping it, although the brown sugar flavour was still holding its own by the last resteep.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Arbor Teas’ Nepal Black. I think Nepal Black works really well as a strong, straight black tea. The astringency isn’t off-putting, and the strength behind this tea really packs a punch. I wish the sweetness that I could smell from the tea was stronger in this tea, as I felt it really could benefit from some added sweetness (honey or sugar would be great for this tea to help amplify the honey flavour). Overall, I really liked Nepal Black. It’s an overall good cup of tea, and I think it’d be good for someone who’s looking to replace or go beyond a basic breakfast tea. This organic black tea really packs a punch with the strength behind the tea, but it’s a bit bolder and more complex in flavour.

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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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