California Tea House’s Organic Silver Needle

Organic Silver Needle by California Tea House
White Tea / Straight
Price$18.00USD for 2oz

California Tea House has provided me with Organic Silver Needle for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

California Tea House got in contact with me regarding trying out a few of their teas, and this was the first one: Organic Silver Needle! This silver needle white tea came to me in a sealed (and resealable!) pouch – opaque on the front and clear on the back so I could see the tea before I even opened the packaging. There were no steeping instructions listed on the packaging, but the URL of the company is included for more information. California Tea House describes their Organic Silver Needle as coming from the Fuding and Zhenhe districts of Fujian Province, and says that this white tea is picked between March 15 and April 10 – so specific! As well, this tea is picked when it’s not raining – what a neat detail to include about the harvesting process (and it probably makes it a lot easier for the workers as well).

These tea leaves are beautiful! If you’ve never encountered a silver needle before, the tea leaves are long and narrow and covered with what feels like soft, downy feathers. I highly recommend touching silver needle the next time that you can because it’s kitten-soft. The dry leaf has a very subtle sweet, floral aroma to it. Organic Silver Needle is a straight Chinese white tea.

Preparation

There were no preparation instructions on the packaging. On California Tea House’s product page, they recommend steeping Organic Silver Needle in below boiling water for 3-5 minutes. My initial steep of Organic Silver Needle was in 85°C (185°F) water for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Organic Silver Needle steeps to a light golden yellow after the first three minutes. I found the aroma to be lightly floral. The taste of this white tea is floral and smooth – no bitterness or astringency at the length of time I steeped it for, or at the temperature of water. I found there to be a nice sweetness to this tea, it makes for a pleasant and tasty cup of tea.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Organic Silver Needle a total of seven times (eight steeps total with the same leaves). The colouring of this tea became a more golden yellow with each steep, peaking in colour at the fourth resteep. As the colour gets deeper, the flavour gets stronger. The balance of the flavours stays consistent with each steep.

My Overall Impression

I loved California Tea House’s Organic Silver Needle. This straight white tea has a beautiful flavour balance, with a nice sweetness to it. The tea itself resteeps well and the tea leaves are lovely to touch and look at. If you haven’t had the opportunity before to try a silver needle, I would recommending trying it. The nice thing about quality straight teas, such as this one, is the ability to resteep over and over again, so you can get a lot of value out of the tea leaves.

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Teatourist: Magic & Mischief Collection

Magic & Mischief Collection (December 2017) by Teatourist
£11-15 for 1 box, plus shipping (+£3-5 per box)

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Teatourist has provided me with the Magic & Mischief Collection for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Teatourist curates and produces monthly tea subscription boxes. Each box comes with 6 different tea samples, containing enough tea to have 3-4 cups per tea, ranging from £11 (for a monthly subscription box) to £15 (for a one-off themed box). The packaging is beautiful, I love the bright colours. Each tea sample comes in a sealed (and resealable) plastic bag, with a corresponding card that can be taken apart. The tab over the front identifies the tea, while the rest of the card gives information on steeping instructions, the flavour profile, ingredients, and about the tea company itself.

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The Magic & Mischief collection consisted of 6 teas plus a sample of fudge. The fudge didn’t last long after I started taking photos but I can tell you that it was delicious. The teas are: Mulled Wine Infusion (fruit tea) by Rutland Tea Company, Christmas Cake (black tea) by Bluebird Tea Co., Amaretta (black tea) by Tugboat, Cranberry Sauce (rooibos tea) by Parched Tea, Le Beauté Tea (herbal tea) by Pacifique Herbal Infusion, and White Christmas (white tea) by Nothing But Tea.

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Because it’s already February (customs/post took a bit longer than expected due to holidays/customs) and this was the December box, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on three of the six tea blends. I’ll focusing my review on: Amaretta by Tugboat, Le Beauté Tea by Pacifique Herbal Infusion, and White Christmas by Nothing But Tea.

20180202-teatouristdecember4Clockwise from top: White Christmas, Le Beauté Tea, and Amaretta.

Amaretta is a flavoured black tea and consists of: black tea, almond, vanilla, and flavouring. There’s also what appears to be cornflower petals in the mix as well. The aroma is very strongly of almonds, with a hint of vanilla. It brings to mind of Christmas baking to me.

Le Beauté Tea is an herbal infusion, and consists of: quince, ginger, apple, carrot, lemongrass, spearmint, mallow, verbena, cranberry, cornflower blue, and natural flavouring. I definitely smelled the lemongrass, mint, and ginger when I opened up this bag. It’s very strong of those flavours – they’re quite aromatic and it has a nice brightness to it.

White Christmas is a flavoured white tea and consists of: white tea, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and rose petals. I think of the three, this one I would say is the prettiest. It has a beautiful aroma – primarily that of the cinnamon and ginger.

As an aside, the fudge is Orange Chocolate Fudge by Fab Fudge and was yum.

Preparation

The preparation instructions for the three teas that I opted to focus on are as follows:

Amarettea (from Tugboat): steep in 100°C (212°F) water for 3-4 minutes, with a suggestion that it can be enjoyed with or without milk, sweetened to taste (and possibly with some brandy as well). My initial steep of Amaretta was for 3 minutes.

White Christmas (from Nothing But Tea): steep in 80°C (176°F) for 2-3 minutes. My initial steep of White Christmas was for 2 minutes.

La Beauté Tea (Pacifique Herbal Infusion): steep in 100°C (212°F) for 10 to 15 minutes. Seemed a bit long, but I allowed it to steep for 10 minutes.

First Taste

Amaretta steeps to a deep golden orange, I found that the aroma of this flavoured black tea very much matched the aroma from the dry leaf (almonds and vanilla). The flavour is primarily that of the almond, with the sweetness of vanilla in the background. The black tea base had a bit of a bite to it, like a breakfast tea. I did wind up adding a little bit of honey and that helped to brighten up the vanilla flavours in this black tea blend.

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White Christmas steeps to a light golden orange, with the aromas still matching up to the dry leaf – being primarily cinnamon and ginger. I found the flavour to be quite warming, thanks to the spices. The white tea base helps to keep the tea light, while the rose petals added the very nice touch of a floral sweetness. I didn’t find that this tea needed anything added to it, the floral aromas were quite nice.

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La Beauté Tea steeps to a lovely light yellow. It stills smells like its strongest herbal ingredients – ginger, lemongrass, and mint. When I tasted this tea, I got a burst of lemongrass, mint, and the heat from the ginger. Delicious, but I did add a touch of honey – this helped to temper down the heat from the ginger, while helping some of the sweeter elements come out (apple and carrot).

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped all three of these tea blends. Amaretta did the best, with three additional steeps. I found that the vanilla flavours were mostly gone by the second resteep, so if the vanilla was your favourite part, perhaps keep this to just one more steep.

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White Christmas did quite well for two additional steeps, and the cinnamon and ginger flavours stayed strong for both steeps and were enjoyable. I enjoyed the warming flavours of the spices.

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And then there’s La Beauté Tea. This herbal infusion didn’t do that well with another steep, I would say it’s good for one steep only.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved the Magic & Mischief Collection by Teatourist. For £11-15 (approximately $15-22USD), it’s really not a bad deal. Considering you get 6 tea samples (12-15g/sample), I’m not sure if the fudge comes with every box (but it’s so good) so I won’t take that into consideration, but for 72-90g of tea and to sample 6 teas from different 6 tea companies with such a variety of blends, I definitely think that the cost is worth it. For a great bonus, if you want to buy more of any one tea that you really liked, you get coupon codes for each tea company.

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The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2006 High Mountain Shou Mei

2006 High Mountain Shou Mei by The Chinese Tea Shop
White Tea / Straight
$11.95 for 25g

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First Impressions

It’s another one of my Vancouver Tea Festival purchases, finally making its way to One More Steep. This tea comes from The Chinese Tea Shop, which is a fantastic tea shop located in Vancouver, British Columbia. I picked this one out because it just smelled so good.

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This is the 2006 High Mountain Shou Mei, which is a straight white tea. The packaging is fairly simplistic, primarily showcasing the tea itself. As you can see, the tea is primarily whole dried leaves. There is some broken tea leaves throughout – I’m not sure how much of that is because of how I had it stored (squished between other teas). The aroma that comes from the dry leaf is primarily floral, with a light sweetness to it.

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Preparation

The Chinese Tea Shop has so much information on their website regarding tea culture, and steeping tea. For this white tea, I opted to do an initial steep at 175°F (80°C) for 2 minutes. If I’m not too familiar with a type of white or green tea, I try to keep the water temperature as low as possible and do short steeps, this helps to prevent astringency and bitterness!

First Taste

High Mountain Shou Mei steeps to a fairly pale yellow for the initial steep. I found that the aroma from this white tea to be quite floral, with a slight fruity undertone that reminds me of apples. When drinking High Mountain Shou Mei, I found it to be smooth, with a sweetness that I wasn’t expecting. I could taste the floral and fruity (definitely apple!) notes, but there was a sweetness that was present. It wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet, it was just enough to highlight the fruity flavours and accents the gentle apple flavour that I get from this tea.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped High Mountain Shou Mei six times (seven times total), adding an extra 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. Shou Mei got to be a deeper, darker golden yellow with each steep, the colour peaked at the third resteep. I found that the flavours got stronger as the colour got deeper. After the third resteep, the colour and flavour began to fade, but was still palatable by the last resteep.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2006 High Mountain Shou Mei. This straight white tea was a delight to have over the course for a long morning tea session (which is apparently what I do when I wake up at 5am not on purpose). I loved tasting this tea over and over again, it resteeps so well and has such a great flavour. The apple-y sweetness was nicely balanced with the floral notes, I just love the natural flavours of this tea. This tea can be on the pricey side (although cost per gram goes down if you buy a larger quantity), but the quality is so high that I think you can definitely get your money’s worth out of each steep, especially if you push it to its limits like I do with multiple steeps.

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