24 Days of Tea: Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate by DavidsTea
Pu-Erh Tea / Flavoured
$8.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

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It’s day 11 of the 24 Days of Tea advent calendar and I was a little bit disappointed to pull out the drawer to see Hot Chocolate. Hot Chocolate and I have a bit of a history in that it had let me down. I posted my first review of Hot Chocolate in November 2015. I had high hopes for this tea then, and I still kind of do because of the name. Hot chocolate to me should be creamy and rich with chocolate flavour.

The ingredients in Hot Chocolate are: pu’erh tea, black tea, cocoa nibs, chocolate chips, chocolate curls, chocolate liquor, whey powder, lactose, soy lecithin, stevia extract, natural and artificial flavouring.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Hot Chocolate in near-boiling (90-95°C/194-203°F) water for 4 to 7 minutes. I had to steep close to 6 minutes to fully melt all of the chocolate.

First Taste

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Hot Chocolate steeps to a deep brown colour, there’s oil on the top of the cup. That is one of the issues with having chocolate in your tea (or sprinkles), is that it’s made up of oils so when it melts, you wind up with an oil slick on top of your tea. Not necessarily the most appetizing. It smells a bit like chocolate, but the taste itself isn’t helping the tea at all. There’s that dank earthiness from the pu-erh base, and then the watered down chocolate flavour from the chocolate shavings. Of course, when you take water and melt it in hot water, you’re going to wind up with watered down chocolate. There’s that harsh sweetness from the artificial sweetener, which I don’t like because it doesn’t add anything positive to this tea for me. I wound up adding a lot of milk to the tea and then finishing off the cup. The milk helps cut the sweetness, and make it more palatable.

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A Second Cup?

Hot Chocolate doesn’t do well when resteeped. The chocolate flavour is further diluted (there’s no more chocolate to melt!) and it doesn’t make for a very good cup of tea when you try one more steep.

My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Hot Chocolate. With my second critical eye on this tea, I just find that it’s not very good. It needs a stronger chocolate flavour in order to make it remind me more of a hot chocolate, and it’s lacking a much needed creaminess to the tea itself that’s needed to better evoke the taste of a much beloved beverage.

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Teavivre’s Fengqing Raw Pu-Erh 2006

Fengqing Raw Pu-Erh 2006 by Teavivre
Pu-Erh Tea / Straight
$12.90USD for 100g

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First Impressions

This is my first tea from Teavivre, so I’m not sure what to expect! The packet is simple, with a printed label that tells you all the information you need to know. The ingredients are listed as being “tea buds and leaves of Yunnan large-leaf tea trees”. The sample packet contains 10gs of loose leaf tea.

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I poured out the 10g of tea into a small tea cup so I could take a look before steeping it. There’s this earthy, woody smell that reminds me a lot of pine trees. The dry leaves are a dark green, almost brown. As this tea is often sold in tea cakes, I could see several ‘chunks’ of tea leaves that are still pressed together. I’m curious about this raw pu-erh, which means that the tea was harvested and then stored. A ripe pu-erh means that the tea was harvested and allowed to ferment.

Preparation

Teavivre recommend steeping Fengqing Raw Pu-Erh in 100°C (212°F) water for 3-10 minutes.

First Taste

I steeped this tea for about 4 to 5 minutes for the initial steep. It steeps to a golden brown, and it smells woody still. The taste itself is interesting, there’s some grassy, woody notes, and it does have some astringency to the tea. There’s some mild bitterness that isn’t unpleasant, although I can see other people having a problem with it. The astrigency isn’t off-putting, so I enjoyed the first cup immensely.

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A Second Cup?

Resteeping Fengqing Raw Pu-Erh is… interesting. It steeps much darker, and the astringency and bitterness is more pronounced. It is, quite literally, hard to swallow.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like Teavivre’s Fengqing Raw Pu-Erh 2006. The first cup was fantastic! But the second steeping was much too bitter for me. The mild bitterness in the first steeping was a fantastic and welcome layer of complexity to the flavours of the pu-erh tea, but it was overwhelming and made for a difficult cup of tea to drink.

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Tea Shop of East West Company’s Puerh Vanilla

Pu Erh Vanilla by Tea Shop of East West Company
Pu-erh / Flavoured

This is a review of a tea that I received for my birthday in 2015. I won’t be doing too much digging into the costs of the gifts that I’ve received.

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First Impressions

Pu-Erh Vanilla came in a darling little branded tin. I love insects, I took an entomology course as part of my first degree, so I’ve always had a place in my heart for six-legged creatures. The dragonflies on this tin just make me smile. There’s a simple label on the tin with some hand-written details including the name of the tea and how long to steep the tea for. The back of the tin includes some more details that I can’t read. This tea was given to me for my birthday in 2015 from a friend who went to a jaunt around Europe! She came back with several teas for me to try, which definitely put a smile on my face.

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Pu-Erh Vanilla has a nice earthy, woody scent to it with vanilla overtones. It’s very pleasant and inviting, the vanilla reminds me almost of baking but the earthy notes to it reminds me of camping, which is a nice touch. I did manage to find the tea page on their website, which stated that this is a “red tea with vanilla scent”.

Preparation

According to the label from Tea Shop, this tea is to be infused for 3 minutes. There’s no temperature information, but I normally steep pu-erh teas in 96°C (204°F).

First Taste

Pu-Erh Vanilla steeps to a rich reddish orange colour, and gets darker the longer you steep it for. The scent is incredibly inviting as it’s vanilla, it smells very strongly of vanilla. The taste is purely pu-erh though, with hints of vanilla flavouring. Because it’s mostly of the pu-erh base, the tea has a strong earthy taste to it, that isn’t unpleasant. It reminds me a lot of teas that I’ve had before in more traditional Chinese restaurants, which isn’t a bad thing. I think they used a fairly robust pu-erh base, which is why the vanilla has such a hard time standing up next to the pu-erh base/natural flavours. Steeping for three minutes did the trick here as the tea isn’t too dark as pu-erh teas can be when steeped for a long time. The flavour is good though, it tastes like a good quality pu-erh which is always well appreciated.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped this about four times, and the flavour profile remains the same. Mostly the robust flavours of the pu-erh, some hints of vanilla, but mostly the pu-erh. It holds up very well to repeat steepings.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Tea Shop of East West Company’s Pu-Erh Vanilla. I feel weird because I’m really only docking a cup because the vanilla isn’t more of a star in this tea. The pu-erh that they used is much too strong to be properly flavoured, so the vanilla is a bit muddled and not shining as much as I would have expected. The pu-erh itself is wonderful though, the flavour is strong and makes for many great cups of tea and it resteeps so well. Because the vanilla was so present in the dry leaf, and in the ingredients and the name, I really do wish that it was more present in the steeped tea because it was so inviting. I’m not that torn up about it though, because I got many cups of tea and it’s good regardless of the lack of vanilla in the taste.

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DavidsTea’s Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate by DavidsTea
Pu-erh Tea / Flavoured
$8.75 for 50g

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First Impressions

I bought Hot Chocolate, along with Cardamom French Toast and Mulled Wine, from DavidsTea’s winter collection because of the amazing fragrance that the dry leaf had. I opted not to get Sweet Almond Green because it smelled like marzipan (just not my thing) and I wasn’t sure about Snow Day – I might go back and get some of Snow Day to try though, mint and chocolate are delightful flavours to have together.

This is the first pu-erh tea that I’ve bought from DavidsTea, and it’s also the first one that I’m reviewing for One More Steep. Despite growing up drinking pu-erh and other Chinese teas, I don’t actually buy a lot of it for myself mostly because my parents do that for me in keeping the familial tea cupboard stocked. I was really intrigued by this tea when I noted the name and smelled it in store because I really like hot chocolate, especially in the winter season. The tea itself has a great earthy base from the pu-erh and it has an amazing chocolate fragrance to it. It’s quite inviting, and I knew that I wanted to try it as soon as I smelled it. The tea itself is quite exciting, it has remarkably large chocolate chips and the beautiful fragrance, and you can see the majority of the ingredients quite easily.

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The ingredients for Hot Chocolate are: pu-erh tea, black tea, cocoa nibs, chocolate, stevia extract, natural and artificial flavouring. There’s also an allergen warning that the tea contains milk and soy. I know some people dislike products that contain stevia and other artificial sweeteners, so do note that the tea contains stevia. I have a sweet tooth, but I generally sweeten my teas with sugar or honey if it’s needed, so I’m curious to see if I can taste it because I know some people say that they can taste stevia when it is added to things because it has a distinct flavour.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Hot Chocolate in 96°C (204°F) water for 4 to 7 minutes. I steeped my cup of Hot Chocolate for about 6 minutes.

First Taste

Hot Chocolate steeps to a beautiful deep brown colour, there’s a notable sheen of oil on the top from the chocolate that had melted during the steeping process. The aroma of the tea is not surprising, given the fragrance of the dry leaf: it smells of mostly of chocolate with the faint earthiness of the tea base.

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When I took my first sip, I wasn’t sure if I was pleasantly surprised or let down. While I knew there was no way that the tea would match up to real hot chocolate, I still had the hope that it would. Hot Chocolate tastes like a very sweet, but watery, hot chocolate. When drinking the tea, I can taste the pu-erh earthiness and it matches well with the chocolate and doesn’t allow the chocolate to overwhelm the flavour profile. There is an oily mouthfeel to this tea, as I would expect from a tea that has chocolate, but it isn’t off-putting when the oils from the chocolate lingers a little bit in my mouth.

Hot Chocolate does really well with the addition of milk. It does still taste like watered down hot chocolate, but the milk helps to cut the sweetness from the stevia and chocolate ingredients. I think that the tea might do even better steeped in hot milk rather than water.

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A Second Cup?

Hot Chocolate did not fair well for a second steeping, which is unfortunate. It still has the lovely chocolate fragrance, but it tastes like further watered-down hot chocolate and that just makes for a very unhappy cup of tea.

My Overall Impression

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I thought that DavidsTea’s Hot Chocolate was just okay. I think I had higher expectations for this tea because of the name and the great chocolate fragrance that the dry leaf had. I wish that the pu-erh tea had a greater presence, or that it was a richer chocolate experience. It definitely improved with the addition of milk, which adds to legitimize the claim that it like hot chocolate – I almost always make hot chocolate with milk. I really do think that Hot Chocolate might do better steeped in hot milk rather than water, if I get some time to try that out, I will share how it goes!

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