The Virginia Tea Company’s Winter Cheer

Winter Cheer by The Virginia Tea Company
Black Tea / Flavoured
$15.00USD for 2oz (20 pyramid tea bags)

20170303-virginiateacowintercheer1

The Virginia Tea Company has provided me with Winter Cheer for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Winter Cheer came in a cardboard carton, but unlike the other teas from The Virginia Tea Company that I’ve reviewed so far, this one came preportioned in tea bags. Another option that they offer, this one is 2oz of tea in 20 pyramid tea bags for $15.00USD. For ease of seeing the tea itself, I cut open the tea bags to get a better look at the tea. There’s a strong smell of peppermint and cinnamon in this tea blend, I quite like it. The smell of peppermint and cinnamon both remind me of the holidays. It may be March, but it snowed this past week where I live, so it still feels like winter!

20170303-virginiateacowintercheer2

It’s very easy to see all of the ingredients: black tea, peppermint, and cinnamon. As per the product page, all of the ingredients are organic. This tea is 66% fair trade and 100% organic, which is quite nice to learn! I like knowing that the people who helped to produce the tea are being paid a living wage for their area.

20170303-virginiateacowintercheer3

Preparation

The Virginia Tea Company recommends steeping Winter Cheer in boiling water (100°C/212°F) for 2 to 3 minutes. I steeped it for 2 minutes for the initial steep. They suggest that the tea leaves can be resteeped up to 3 times.

First Taste

Winter Cheer steeps to a clear reddish orange liquor. There’s a strong peppermint smell to it that’s quite inviting. On first sip, I can make out the black tea base – it has wonderful malty notes to it. The cinnamon is warming, and it provides a light amount of sweetness to the tea. The peppermint offers a minty freshness with each sip that reminds me of candy canes during the holidays. It’s been a while since I’ve had a tea blend where I could make out each individual flavour, it’s quite nice to be able to do that and taste how well balanced the flavours are!  They complement each other nicely.

20170303-virginiateacowintercheer5

A Second Cup?

Because it was suggested that the tea leaves could be resteeped up to three times, I had to give it a go – and three resteeps was right on money. The mint and cinnamon flavours were still present by the third resteep, they were just a bit weaker. I think the flavours would be more muddled if I had attempted a fourth resteep. I added 30 seconds for each additional resteep.

20170303-virginiateacowintercheer6

My Overall Impression

rating4

I loved The Virginia Tea Company’s Winter Cheer. It may seem like the wrong month for it, but the crazy amount of snow I’ve been experiencing lately has gotten me into a bit of a sour mood so a cup of Winter Cheer suited me just fine as a pick-me-up. I found the flavours of all three ingredients to be well balanced in creating an enjoyable flavour. The fact the tea leaves can be resteeped up to three times is quite nice, the flavours are still present – just getting a smidgen weaker.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

The Virginia Tea Company’s Chai

Chai by The Virginia Tea Company
Black Tea / Flavoured
$11.50USD for 2oz

20170224-virginiateacompanychai1

The Virginia Tea Company has provided me with Chai for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Without a doubt, I am a fan of The Virginia Tea Company’s choice of packaging. The card stock carton is nice in that when I’m done with the tea inside, I can put it into recycling (or reuse it for something else). As with Earl Grey and English Breakfast, Chai came with empty tea bags, a wooden spoon, and a tea infuser ball (I had a photo of these with my first review of The Virginia Tea Company’s teas – Earl Grey). Again, the loose tea came in a waxed paper bag, so as soon as I opened the carton I could smell the tea. The most prominent aromas in this tea come from the cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Like the other two teas I’ve reviewed for The Virginia Tea Company so far, the $11.50 option is just the loose leaf tea, while the $15.00 option has the tea with all the accessories needed for any new tea enthusiast (or as a gift option!).

20170224-virginiateacompanychai2

As per the packaging and their website, Chai is an “award winning organic blend”. The ingredients in Chai are: fair trade organic black tea, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic cardamom, and organic vanilla. I can’t really make out the vanilla in the dry leaf, but I can definitely make out the other ingredients in the aroma of the dry leaf and it has me excited. I’m generally a fan of Chai in general and the Chai latte at Starbucks is my go-to drink there when I’m not in the mood for something cold. It took me an embarrassingly long time to learn that ‘chai’ is another word for tea so when I went to Starbucks to order a Chai tea latte, I was essentially saying tea tea latte – can’t take me out anywhere!

Preparation

The Virginia Tea Company suggests steeping Chai for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, and that it can be resteeped an additional two times. I used my trusty Breville IQ Kettle’s black tea setting (100°C/212°F) for getting my water to the right temperature and my initial steep of Chai was for 2 minutes (click for my review of the Breville IQ Kettle).

First Taste

20170224-virginiateacompanychai3

Chai has a beautiful deep orange colour after steeping for two minutes. The aroma of the tea is like an amplified version of the dry leaf – I can make out the ginger and cinnamon the most. The taste of Chai has a nice warming sensation to it, which I contribute primarily to the ginger in the tea. The cardamom is a little bit lost, but the cinnamon and ginger are the stars in the first steep. The vanilla flavour is there at the end of each sip, but it can be a bit hard to taste from time to time. Because I do love my Chai as a latte, I added a bit of sugar and milk to it just to see how it would taste – I think it tastes perfect. The milk adds a layer of creaminess, but the warming sensation that the ginger provides is barely toned down so it’s still very much present.

20170224-virginiateacompanychai4

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Chai a total of three times (so four steeps overall). The second steep had the strongest ginger and cardamom flavour – it has a strong spice flavour profile than the first steep, and overall this steep was my favourite. The third steep was very similar to the first, a nice milder version of the second steep. The fourth steep was a bit watery, so The Virginia Tea Company was right on the button when it said to resteep two times.

20170224-virginiateacompanychai5

My Overall Impression

rating4

I loved The Virginia Tea Company’s Chai. I love the flavours of all the ingredients that are in this tea blend. While I didn’t taste the vanilla too much, I don’t think it was really all that needed given the fact that it was competing with some very strong flavours – cinnamon and ginger. The warming sensation of the ginger is quite nice in this black tea blend, and I really enjoy Chai with some milk and sugar (although it doesn’t need the sugar like some other teas do). I made this one with water, as that’s how the steeping instructions went, but I think it would be really good as a proper latte (with a mound of foam on top) or even prepared steeped in milk. If you’re looking for a tutorial on how to make lattes at home without fancy equipment, I’ve got you covered.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

The Virginia Tea Company’s English Breakfast

English Breakfast by The Virginia Tea Company
Black Tea / Straight
$11.50USD for 2oz

20170217-virginiateacompanyenglishbreakfast1

The Virginia Tea Company has provided me with English Breakfast for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Much like The Virginia Tea Company’s Earl Grey, English Breakfast came in a cardboard container, with the loose-leaf tea in a wax paper bag, and it came with an tea ball infuser, wooden spoon, and 10 tea bag filters. English Breakfast is a fair trade and organic tea, which is a good thing to know. I like knowing that the people who grow and harvest the tea that I drink are paid fair wages (which is part of what International Tea Day was about). English Breakfast has a strong smell to the tea, almost malty smell to it like from an Assam, with some light plum notes to the dry leaf of the tea that are enticing.

20170217-virginiateacompanyenglishbreakfast2

The English Breakfast that The Virginia Tea Company sent me was the $15.00USD version (2oz tea plus tea accessories). The tea-only version with 2oz of loose-leaf tea is $11.50USD.

Preparation

The Virginia Tea Company suggests steeping English Breakfast in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. The carton (and their website) suggests that the tea leaves can resteeped up to 3 additional times. I steeped English Breakfast in my tea pot in 100°C (212°F) water for 2 minutes.

First Taste

After the initial 2 minute steep, I had a tea that was a deep orange colour. The fragrance that wafts up from my tea cup reminds me of the malty flavour of Assam teas. The tea itself has a very mild astringency that just leads to a slight mouthpucker at the end of each sip. There’s zero bitterness when steeped for the 2 minutes. English Breakfast has quite a strong taste to it, with the malty flavour from the black tea base and deep plum notes that show up at the beginning of each sip. The tea is quite smooth and enjoyable. The strength in the flavour, despite a short steep, is what I look for in a good breakfast tea. The tea is good on its own, but me being me, I added some sugar and milk to it and found that it tastes quite good with being doctored up as well.

20170217-virginiateacompanyenglishbreakfast3 20170217-virginiateacompanyenglishbreakfast4

A Second Cup?

I resteeped English Breakfast, adding 30 seconds per subsequent steep. I did a total of four resteeps (five steeps total with the same leaves). I found that the plum flavours were the strongest in the second steep. The third steep fared about the same as the second, although the plum flavours weren’t as strong. The fourth steep was quite similar to the first steep in terms of strength and flavour. For the fifth resteep, the flavours were very weak. The suggested three resteeps was a good number for enjoyable tea each time.

20170217-virginiateacompanyenglishbreakfast5

My Overall Impression

rating4

I loved The Virginia Tea Company’s English Breakfast. A good strong black tea is always appreciated in the morning, which is a great time for a cup (or pot!) of English Breakfast. I found this one did very well in terms of resteeping, which is shows the quality in the tea leaves. I found the plum notes to be delicious, and the malty flavour in the tea to be enjoyable. I might have even enjoyed this tea best with some sugar and milk, but it is good plain if that is your cup of tea. The tea and tea accessories version is a nice complete starter kit for someone new to loose-leaf tea, I really like that it’s a complete gift option, if you’re looking for a gift for someone.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

The Virginia Tea Company’s Earl Grey

Earl Grey by The Virginia Tea Company
Black Tea / Flavoured
$11.50USD for 2oz

20170210-virginiateacoearlgrey1

The Virginia Tea Company has provided me with 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

The Virginia Tea Company’s packaging is pretty nice. It’s a sturdy cardboard container and inside was the 2oz of tea (in a wax paper bag), 10 tea bags, 1 tea ball infuser, and 1 wooden spoon. There’s various price points for their tea, according to the website. For 2oz of tea only, it’s $11.50USD and for the option of the tea plus all of the accessories, it’s $15.00USD. I think the tea plus all the accessories would make for a great gift-giving option as it would be a nice loose leaf tea starter kit.

20170210-virginiateacoearlgrey2

The tea leaves have a strong Bergamot smell to them, it’s quite nice. Otherwise, the black tea base has a great malty smell to it that reminds me a lot of Assam tea. According to the packaging, this tea is 97% fair trade and organic. The Virginia Tea Company’s Earl Grey consists of black tea and Bergmot flavouring.

As a side note, at the time of writing I was unable to determine on The Virginia Tea Company’s website if the drawstring tea bags were compostable. I messaged the company and found out the ones photographed above are not biodegradable and the company is in the process of changing to tea bags that are.

20170210-virginiateacoearlgrey3

Preparation

The steeping instructions from The Virginia Tea Company is to steep with boiling water (100°C/212°F) for 2-3 minutes. My initial steep of Earl Grey was for 3 minutes.

First Taste

The first thing I noticed when steeping Earl Grey is that there was an instant waft up from the tea when I was pouring in the water of a malty smell – it definitely reminds me of Assam tea. It steeped it for three minutes and my first sip? It’s bitter! It’s very malty and has strong Assam flavours.

20170210-virginiateacoearlgrey4

To counteract the bitterness, I added sugar to it. This helped to cut down the bitterness and it did brighten up the bergamot flavouring quite a bit so that it was more noticeable. I doctored it further by adding evaporated milk and that helped to cut down the bitterness completely. Sugar and milk saved the day! I definitely think that 3 minutes is too long for an initial steep.

20170210-virginiateacoearlgrey5

I attempted again at the beginning with fresh tea leaves for a 2 minute steeping time, and found that the tea was mildly bitter. It required less sugar and milk to make it more palatable. For my third go around, I steeped for 90 seconds and found that the tea had zero bitterness.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped the tea leaves from my third attempt (initial steep of 90 seconds) and found that the flavours were still quite good. It has a robust malty flavour from the black tea base, which coupled with the bergamot is enjoyable. I quite enjoy Earl Grey on a regular basis, so this does resteep nicely. The packaging suggests that the tea leaves can be reused up to three more times. I found by the third resteep (fourth steep overall at 3.5 minutes), the bergamot is no where to be found although the black tea base is still going strong. The bergamot flavouring was still noticeable in the second resteep (third steep overall).

20170210-virginiateacoearlgrey6

My Overall Impression

3cups-2

I liked The Virginia Tea Company’s Earl Grey. I do think that the recommend steep times are a little long for this Earl Grey, and would highly recommend starting at 90 seconds for the initial step. This tea does well with being modified, so if you do over steep it like I did with your first steep the tea can still be saved. A little bit of sugar and milk goes a long way to keeping your tea tasty. It’s not often that I come across an Earl Grey that can be resteeped more than once, usually because the bergamot flavouring is completely gone with the initial steep – so that was certainly a nice touch! I really like that The Virginia Tea Company offers you the option of buying the tea with or without the accessories – if you’re buying it for a gift for someone who’s new to loose leaf tea, the accessories option would be a great idea that way they’re not struggling to figure out how to keep the tea leaves out of their mouth.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.