Pluck’s Spadina Blend

Spadina Blend by Pluck
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.00 for 30g

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Pluck’s Spadina Blend came to me as part of The Sugared Teacup’s June themed subscription box.

First Impressions

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Spadina Blend is described as being inspired by Toronto’s Chinatown, and it’s not surprising based on the ingredients found in this black tea blend. Pluck describes it as having notes of “lychee, lemongrass, ginger, and coconut” and besides the coconut, the rest of the ingredients are very familiar to me as someone who grew up going to Vancouver’s historic Chinatown on a weekly basis. The first thing I could smell when I opened up the bag of tea was the mix of lemongrass, ginger, and coconut. The lychee fruit has a sweet floral aroma to it, and I did note some sweet fruity smells to it, but nothing overly floral. I must acknowledge the fact that lemongrass and ginger are both very strong aromas, so it’s hard for something delicate and floral to make an impact in comparison.

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In Spadina Blend is the following ingredients: black tea, lemongrass, dried ginger pieces, dried mango, unsweetened coconut, lime leaves, natural flavours.

Preparation

Pluck recommends steeping Spadina Blend in 100°C (212°F) water for 5 to 7 minutes. I opted to do my initial steep for 5 minutes.

First Taste

Spadina Blend steeps to a beautiful golden orange, it’s such an inviting colour! The aroma from this tea is primarily ginger and lemongrass, which I don’t find surprising given how intense those ingredients can be on their own, in teas, or in a dish. This tea honestly reminds me a lot of when I was younger and if I was sick or had a sore throat, because my mom would make me a drink that had a lot of ginger in it (and honey).

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The taste of this black tea blend is primarily lemongrass and ginger to me, I didn’t really taste a lot of coconut or the mango, but I can smell the lime from the lime leaves. There’s a hint of spice to this tea from the ginger, and sweetness that I believe to be derived from all the fruit that is in this tea, which helps to balance out the ginger.

I set aside a cup of this tea to cool down to room temperature before I added some ice. I think it makes a fantastic iced tea, the ginger adds a bit of refreshing heat but the other flavours get to be more forward when the ginger is toned down. There’s more fruity notes that I can make out when the tea is iced and it allows me to taste more of the other ingredients, which is nice.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Spadina Blend once, and found that the flavours were lacking compared to the initial steep. The intensity of the lemongrass and ginger wasn’t there anymore, and the rest of the flavours were a bit muddled in the background. I would say that Spadina Blend is good for one steep only.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Pluck’s Spadina Blend. The ingredients are a nice window into Chinese ingredients, and the ginger and lemongrass were very forward and bold ingredients that Pluck had chosen for this black tea blend. I found that when hot, this tea reminded me a lot of the times when I was sick as a child and that the ginger was the strongest part of this tea. However, when iced this tea is so different. The other flavours get to come out to play, and there are more fruity notes in this tea which balance well with the strength of the ginger.

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DavidsTea’s Peachy Lychee

Peachy Lychee by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$9.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I got my little bag of Peachy Lychee at a local DavidsTea store after the person behind the counter went on and on about this one. She said it was her new favourite (when iced) and I had to have a sniff. The first thing that I smelled when exposed to the dry leaf was peaches. Peaches, peaches, and more peaches. And then there’s the sweet, floral aromas that balance quite well with the peaches. If you’ve never had lychees before, I would describe them as having a sweet and crisp floral aroma. They’re quite a delicious fruit, if you ever get the chance to eat them.

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Peachy Lychee is a black tea blend, the ingredients are: black tea, apple, candied pineapple, orange peel, sweet blackberry leaf, white hibiscus, peach, lychee, and natural flavouring. It never ceases to amaze me how prominent apple can be in fruity tea blends, despite not being anywhere in the title. Apple, however, does go well in a fruity tea as it adds a nice level of sweetness that I always enjoy.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Peachy Lychee in near-boiling water for 4-7 minutes (as per their website, ‘near-boiling’ is 90-95°C (194-203°F). My initial steep of Peachy Lychee was for 5 minutes.

First Taste

Peachy Lychee steeps to a beautiful golden yellow (it’s a bit more orange when you have larger amounts of it… more about that later). The aroma that comes up from the steeped tea is solely peaches. After letting it cool down just a little bit, I had a sip. The taste of this tea was a good mix of fruity and floral – the peaches and lychee flavours are quite good. I did add some sweetener to this tea (honey, for those curious) and found that it really helped to add an extra punch of sweetness to it while helping to brighten up the flavours.

I wound up icing this tea as well and found it to be delicious. Iced, the peach and lychee flavours were more refreshing. I would recommend having this either iced or cold steeped.

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A Second Cup?

I did try to resteep Peachy Lychee and found that it didn’t really hold up to being resteeped. The fruity and floral flavours that I loved so much in the first steep were weak in the second steep. I would say that Peachy Lychee is good for one steep only.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved DavidsTea’s Peachy Lychee. This fruity black tea blend does an okay job as a hot tea, but it definitely ticks all the boxes for me as an iced tea. The aroma and flavour of this tea, both dry and steeped, are delicious. The floral sweetness from the lychee is present and isn’t overpowered by the peachy flavours that most people would be familiar with. I would highly recommend having this tea either iced or cold steeped, and a little bit of sweetener goes a long way in brightening up the flavours and making it even more refreshingly delicious.

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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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