Grand Tea’s Organic GABA Black Tea

Organic GABA Black Tea by Grand Tea
Black Tea / Straight
$42.50HKD for 25g

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Grand Tea has provided me with Organic GABA Black Tea for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

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I have never had GABA tea before. For those not in the know, GABA is short for gamma-Aminobutyric acid (γ-Aminobutyric acid), which is a neutrotransmitter. GABA teas were developed in the 1990s in Japan, where a new type of tea was developed with GABA in the tea leaves and then a method of fermenting tea leaves was developed in an oxygen-free environment to keep the GABA in the tea leaves. I don’t know all the details about this (I did read a little bit about it on the Organic GABA Black Tea page and on Wikipedia).

When I opened up the sample of Organic GABA Black Tea, the first thing I noticed is that there was a lot of tea in there. The tea leaves are huge and wiry with light twists. There are some deep plum notes that I smelled at first, with some subtle notes of grass and hay. Organic GABA Black Tea is a straight black tea.

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Preparation

Grand Tea did not have any preparation recommends for Organic GABA Black Tea. I steeped mine in 100°C (212°F) water for an initial steep of 4 minutes.

First Taste

Organic GABA Black Tea steeps to a beautiful golden orange colour. There are some berry notes when I smelled the tea as I waiting for it to cool. There’s also a bit of a grassy fragrance to this tea. On first sip, I could taste the grassy notes, a fruity taste that reminded me of currants, and light floral sweetness. The tea itself is very smooth, there’s a pleasant mouth coating feel to this tea. I find it to be very ‘light’ feeling for a black tea (especially compared to all those breakfast teas I’ve reviewed lately). It’s quite refreshing to sip. The floral sweet notes are just enough, I don’t think a sweetener is needed. It’s bitter-free and that’s always nice in a black tea.

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A Second Cup?

I found the second steep of Organic GABA Black Tea to be a bit crisper in flavour. It has a bit more of a bite at the end of each sip. There are heavier grassy flavours, a little less floral, and just the hint of plums. The third steep had the least amount of flavour overall, the grassy notes are low and the tea has a bit of a malty note to it. I found the third steep to be the least enjoyable, and would say that Organic GABA Black Tea is excellent for up to two steeps.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Grand Tea’s Organic GABA Black Tea. I love trying new things, and I’m not sure if I felt calmer after drinking Organic GABA Black Tea or not because the act of drinking tea generally just makes me calmer and happier. I found the flavours to be an interesting mix and was tasty for the first two steeps. The leaves are amazing, I was so impressed with how much they opened up. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t hold up for a third steep, but the first two steeps were delicious and so varied for being from the same tea, it was fun to taste the differences between steeps.

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DavidsTea’s English Breakfast

English Breakfast by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Straight
$4.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I am always a sucker for a good straight tea, and I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to try DavidsTea’s English Breakfast. Maybe it’s because they have so many other teas to try, or because I was on an oolong kick for the longest time (because, let’s face it, oolong is one of my favourites), but I do love drinking black teas, and I do love trying straight black teas so lets get to it! English Breakfast is a straight black tea, consisting of black tea leaves from Sri Lanka.

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The dry leaf has nice floral notes to it, and a natural sweet smell that reminds me a bit of the smell of honey. The leaves themselves don’t appear to be very large, so I can’t say much about that.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping English Breakfast for 4-7 minutes in ‘near-boiling water’ (90-95°C/194-203°F). I did my first initial steep for 5 minutes.

First Taste

English Breakfast steeps to a nice deep golden orange, it has a great honeyed smell to it. The overall aroma I get from this black tea is one of floral mixed with a bit of maltiness. I found that the tea had no bitterness or astringency when steeped for 5 minutes – always nice. The honeyed taste to this black tea just adds a little touch of sweetness to each sip, which makes it quite enjoyable.

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I added a tiny bit of honey and evaporated milk to this tea. The honey helps accentuate the honeyed flavour in the tea, and the floral notes were a bit tempered by the milk, but still tasty.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped English Breakfast three times, adding an additional 30 seconds per subsequent resteep. I found it held its flavour well, and still made for a peppy cup of tea. The overall flavour of honeyed and floral notes stays pretty much the same for two of the three steeps, the third resteep was a bit weak and required a bit more honey to make it palatable. If you’re not one to add anything to your cup of tea, I would keep it to a total of two resteeps.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked DavidsTea’s English Breakfast. I generally do like straight black teas, and English Breakfast did not disappoint. I love the natural floral and honeyed notes in this tea – both dry and when steeped. The fact that it resteeps to a decent number of times is an added bonus, considering how small the leaves are. While it’s perfectly fine straight, I did enjoy it better with a bit of honey and evaporated milk (personal preference!). The ability of this tea to be resteeped adds to the value in the tea, and it isn’t terribly expensive as far as straight black teas go, which is a nice added bonus.

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Tazo’s Awake English Breakfast

Awake English Breakfast by Tazo Tea
Black Tea / Straight
$2.50 for 61g (24 sachets)

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First Impressions

Just a note on the price, I bought two boxes of Tazo Tea while they were on sale for 2 boxes for $5.00. Regular price is usually higher ($4.99-6.99/box, depending on retailer). The box itself is cardboard, I like recyclable packaging. The tea bags come individually packaged in paper and the tea bags themselves feel like they’re biodegradable.

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Awake English Breakfast is made up of “a blend of black teas”. There’s a malty aroma to the black tea that reminds me a lot of Assam tea, so it wouldn’t surprise me of one of the black teas in this blend is Assam. I did rip open the tea bag to see what it looked like inside, I was not surprised that the tea leaves inside of the tea bag were tiny, definitely not the whole leaf tea that I’ve been getting used to. I mostly bought the bagged tea for the convenience factor that tea bags have when it comes to having tea on the go (where I work, I don’t have a desk and I can’t have open mugs).

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Preparation

Tazo Tea recommends steeping Awake English Breakfast in 100°C (212°F) water for 5 minutes. I followed the steeping directions.

First Taste

Awake English Breakfast steeps to a deep orange, it’s got a great smell to it that reminds me of other breakfast teas. I think 5 minutes are far too long. I ended up trying again (and again) with other tea bags and found that 3 minutes was a good amount of time. 5 minutes – I wound up with a very astringent and bitter cup of tea. Less than 3 minutes and it was just very weak. 3 minutes was a good length of steeping time because I wound up with a strong cup of tea with a very strong malty flavour, but minimal astringency and no bitterness. 5 minutes is definitely far too long for this tea (perhaps if it was whole leaf tea, it would be a different story).

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Awake English Breakfast was good on its own, but also good with some honey and evaporated milk. It helped tone down what little astringency there was with the 3 minute steep.

A Second Cup?

Awake English Breakfast is a one steep wonder, I found that a second steep resulted in a very watery cup of tea.

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My Overall Impression

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I thought that Tazo Tea’s Awake English Breakfast was just okay. As far as breakfast teas go, Awake English Breakfast is okay. I don’t recommend their recommended steep time (5 minutes is just far too long!) and I wouldn’t buy at full retail price ($0.30/sachet vs. $0.10/sachet). It’s very convenient to have tea prepackaged into tea bags, which is what I typically have when I’m at work (each to steep and easy to discard). If you can find it on sale, I would recommend snagging some Awake English Breakfast for some black tea on the go. For the love of tea, don’t over steep this one and pull the tea bag out at the 3 minute mark – life is too short for a bad cup of tea.

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DavidsTea’s Love Tea #7

Love Tea #7 by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$7.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I initially purchased Love Tea #7 because it was one of their teas that were made a part of their Valentine’s Day collection (but not exclusively so, like The Earl’s Valentine). It’s always been a tea that I was curious about because people in store always spoke highly of it and I’m nothing if not an equal opportunist when it comes to tea.

The first thing I note when opening up the bag is the very strong smell of strawberries and chocolate. I mostly attribute that to the combination of the natural and artificial ingredients. However, it is nice to be able to pick out the different ingredients in this black tea blend because I can see the black tea, the chocolate, the rose petals, and the strawberries.

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Love Tea #7 consists of: black tea, chocolate chips, rose petals, strawberries, artificial chocolate, strawberry, vanillla, and red fruit flavouring. This black tea blend also consists of soy (in the chocolate chips). The chocolate chips do not consist of dairy products, so if you’re a hard core vegan you could still try this tea out! (I’m not 100% sure what “red fruit flavouring” is, sorry.)

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Love Tea #7 in 96°C (205°F) water for 4 to 7 minutes. If you look on the DavidsTea’s website, it’ll say “near-boiling” for the temperature but if you click on the words “near-boiling”, the temperatures will pop up on your screen with a range (90-95C°/194-203°F).

The different temperature recommendations are a bit of a pain. Because it is a black tea, I opted to follow the Tea Association of Canada’s steeping recommendation of 100°C/212°F (more about steeping times here).

First Taste

Love Tea #7 steeps to a lovely reddish orange, I find that the first thing I can smell wafting up from the tea cup is the smell of strawberries and chocolate. If I concentrate a little bit more, I can make out the very faint smell of vanilla. It’s not a very strong smell of vanilla though, I think it would have been stronger if they had opted to use pure vanilla flavouring versus the artificial vanilla.

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When drinking Love Tea #7, the first thing I taste is the black tea base. There’s a mild nuttiness to it, and reminds me of a robust breakfast tea in terms of flavour. The strawberries and chocolate play second fiddle to the base, which is disappointing since the strawberries and chocolate were so in the forefront for the dry leaf and even when smelling the steeped tea. The chocolate chips do leave an oily film resting on the top of my tea, and I found that it does add to a bit an oily mouthfeel to the tea but it isn’t so thick that it’s off-putting. I think it helps that the chocolate pieces were fairly small in size.

Adding a touch of honey helped to bring out the strawberries in the tea, but the chocolate was still quite minimal in terms of being present in the flavour profile.

A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep Love Tea #7 and found that the flavour was primarily the black tea base with very minimal contributions from the chocolate or strawberry. No vanilla was to be found.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Love Tea #7. I really wanted to like this one, mostly because it smelled so good. Unfortunately, how it smelled in dry leaf compared to the actual taste of the tea did not match up at all. The tea did okay with the addition of a sweetener (honey), but the chocolate was still lost. This is definitely a tea that is not good for one more steep because it does so poorly with being resteeped in terms of flavour. The black tea base of Love Tea #7 is a good strong base though, but I would very much hesitate to recommend it due to the fact that a breakfast tea would be far less expensive than this black tea blend.

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Oollo Tea’s Red Jade Black Tea

Red Jade Black Tea by Oollo Tea
Black Tea / Straight
$10.00 for 25g

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Oollo Tea has provided me with Red Jade Black Tea for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

One of the sample packets I got from Oollo Tea back in November 2016, this their Red Jade Black Tea. The tea leaves are long and wiry with how they are twisted together. The leaves themselves are dark, and when I opened up the bag the first thing I smelled was plums. There’s the sweet smell of plums mixed in with raisins. It’s an intriguing mix of fruit flavours, and it’s got my interest piqued.

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Red Jade Black Tea is a straight black tea, consisting of tea from Yuchi, Nantou, Taiwan.

Preparation

Oollo Tea recommends steeping in 90-95°C (194-203°F) water for 1-4 minutes. For those who’ve read my previous reviews before, you know how much I rely on my Breville IQ Kettle for the perfect temperature water – I used the Oolong setting (91°C/195°F) and did an initial steep of 2 minutes.

First Taste

Red Jade Black Tea steeps to a really pretty light golden orange – it reminds me a lot of the orange found in sunsets (which then makes me think of summer and how we’ve been having a lot of snow here…). There’s a nice plum and raisin aroma that comes from the tea when I smell it after it has steeped. On first sip, the first thing I taste is the taste of the plums and raisins. Then comes just a slight astringency at the end of sip that is met with a cool minty taste. As I continue to sip this tea, I find notes of warming cinnamon spice flavour, that really balances well with the sweetness of the plums. The minty flavour isn’t as prominent as the cinnamon, but it does make for quite the variation in flavour in the same cup of tea. Overall, I really like that this is a full-bodied tea, it has a great mouthfeel to it without being oily, and there’s a complex blend of flavours that makes it really fun to drink.

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A Second Cup?

The packaging suggested that I could steep this tea three times, so of course I did just that. I added an additional 30 seconds per subsequent resteep. I found that the tea has very similar flavours in steeps 2 and 3, but found that the plum flavour is far more pronounced in steeps 2 and 3 than the flavour of raisins.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Oollo Tea’s Red Jade Black Tea. What I thought was going to be a fairly straightforward black tea ended up being this delicious roller coaster of flavour. From the beginning to the end, each sip takes you on this crazy journey that starts off with the warming flavour of cinnamon and ends off with a cool bit of mint. It might be the most complex and interesting black tea that I’ve ever had the pleasure of steeping. And all the while, the notes of plum and raisin hang in there to balance out the warming and cooling flavours. It’s just plain delicious.

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