Grand Tea’s Yixing Black Tea

Yixing Black Tea by Grand Tea
Black Tea / Straight
$28.00HKD for 25g

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Grand Tea has provided me with Yixing Black Tea for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Black teas are one of my favourite teas to have in the morning before I head off to work or just to start off my day. They just tend to put a bit more pep into my step whenever I need a bit more motivation or energy to go and do things. Luckily, Grand Tea sent me a sample of Yixing Black Tea (Yixing Souchong Black Tea on their website).

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This straight black tea comes from the Jiangsu Province of China. The dry leaf has a subtle aroma to it that reminds me of dried apricots.

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Preparation

There were no steeping instructions for Yixing Black Tea on the Grand Tea website, so I followed my usual steeping time for a black tea: Steep in 100°C (212°F) water for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Yixing Black Tea steeps to a golden orange colour, it’s quite beautiful. The tea itself has a soft aroma to it, there’s a mild honey smell and a subtle fragrance that reminds me of roasted cashews. There’s a slight nutty flavour to this straight black tea. The mild honey smell lends itself well to this tea because there’s just a touch of a sweetness to the tea that makes it quite palatable.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Yixing Black Tea three additional times, and added 30 seconds per subsequent steep. I found that the cashew flavour got a bit stronger as the honeyed sweetness faded into the background. By the third resteep, I found the tea to be a bit watery so I would suggest a maximum of two resteeps for this tea before the flavours get too weak.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Grand Tea’s Yixing Black Tea. I enjoyed the different flavours in this tea – the roasted cashews/nutty flavour with the honey sweetness. I do wish that the sweetness held on better with each resteep though, as that was one of the nicest parts of the flavour profile for me. It performs well when being resteeped, which is nice if you want to have this tea again and again during the day. Due to the sweetness in the initial steep, I think this tea would do well paired with either dessert or breakfast.

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2017 Autumn Tea Round Up

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It’s been remarkably warm around here earlier this week, but I’m ready for autumn full on with the crisp leaves underfoot and it being the perfect weather for hot cups of tea and hand knits. Last year around this time, I shared of my favourite teas for the autumn and while I still love all of those, I thought I’d share five different teas that I’m heavily relying on this autumn as the weather gets cooler and I’m more in the mood for snuggling up under a quilt than going for a stroll along the water.

Out of DavidsTea’s Chai collection for the early autumn, I’m crushing on their S’mores Chai and love it at a latte over plain. A lot of stores have sold out of this one, so if you’re wanting to get your hands on some S’mores Chai, I’d recommend visiting your local shop earlier rather than later.

Grand Tea’s Premium Pearl Jasmine makes the list because I love jasmine green teas and this is one that I’ve found myself reaching for repeatedly the last few weeks. It makes such a great cup of tea and when I (accidentally!) leave it a bit too long, it’s still great cold.

For a more ‘normal’ Chai, I’ve been drinking Chai from The Virginia Tea Company and loving every moment of it. It makes for a nice cozy cup of tea with the lovely warming properties of cinnamon and ginger – delicious!

I caved and bought a tin of DavidsTea’s Cardamom French Toast lately and have been greatly enjoying it as a latte. When I take it to work, I’ve been steeping it at home and then adding milk later at work. It helps cool it down (since my travel mug keeps tea way too hot!) and I can instantly enjoy it.

For the days that I’ve actually been at home, I’ve been enjoying Oollo Tea’s Cuiruan High Mountain Oolong. A delight for my taste buds, for sure! It makes for a great at-home tea because of how many times I can manage to resteep this tea and still enjoy it. It’s been a joy to have when I’m at home and just to have throughout the day.

What has been some of your favourite teas to have so far this autumn? (And if you’re in the southern hemisphere, what are you having during your spring?) Share with me below in the comments!

DavidsTea’s White Chocolate Chai

White Chocolate Chai by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I got a small bag of White Chocolate Chai at a local DavidsTea, their customer service representative told me that it reminded her of Cardamom French Toast – which I liked. The smell of this tea did remind me of Cardamom French Toast a bit, but the ginger is quite a strong player in the battle of the aromatics in this black tea blend along with the cinnamon. I don’t really get a lot of chocolate/white chocolate fragrances from this tea.

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White Chocolate Chai is made up of: black tea, ginger, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, white chocolate curls, cardamom, cloves, cocoa powder, stevia extract, natural and artificial white chocolate flavouring.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping White Chocolate Chai in “near-boiling” water (194-203°F/90-95°C) for 4 to 7 minutes. I opted to do an initial steep of White Chocolate Chai for 5 minutes. I checked it at 4 minutes and could still see unmelted chocolate.

First Taste

White Chocolate Chai steeps to a warm brown colour, with a bit of an oil slick across the top (oils from the melted white chocolate). It’s a bit cloudy (again, because of the chocolate), and has a very interesting smell. I say interesting because it confused me at first and I couldn’t quite place it. There’s the warming aromas of the ginger, and I can smell the cardamom and cinnamon. The taste of this tea has mostly ginger, with a touch of the cardamom, cinnamon, and cocoa. There’s a hint of bitterness at the end of each sip. I found that most of the spices were well-balanced, besides the ginger that just edged everything out. The ginger has a bit of spiciness and heat, but it doesn’t seem to mix well with the black tea. Despite the white chocolate and the stevia, I didn’t find the tea particularly sweet. There’s the odd aftertaste from the stevia, which reminded me why I don’t usually use artificial sweeteners.

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I did try White Chocolate Chai as a latte and found that the addition of milk helped soften the ginger, but it didn’t do much to hide the artificial taste of the stevia. It was drinkable, but still had the artificial aftertaste of stevia.

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A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep White Chocolate Chai and found it to be watery and didn’t taste at all like the initial steep. If possible, the stevia aftertaste is stronger in the resteep.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like DavidsTea’s White Chocolate Chai. I really wanted to enjoy this one, because I love the idea of a white chocolate tea (because I love white chocolate). The unfortunate thing is that I didn’t like the stevia aftertaste – it just lingers quite a bit in the mouth and I didn’t like it. Despite the name, this black tea blend did not remind me of white chocolate or chai, which is quite unfortunate.

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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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