The Tea House’s Phoenix Dan Cong

Phoenix Dan Cong by The Tea House
Oolong Tea / Straight

I received Phoenix Dan Cong as part of my swag bag from the 2020 Virtual International Tea Festival. At the time of writing, Phoenix Dan Cong was not available on The Tea House’s website, so I was unable to determine the price of the tea.

First Impressions

Phoenix Dan Cong came to me in sealed, non-sealable, silver packaging – nothing a tight fitting metal tea canister or even just a zip-top plastic bag won’t fix in a pinch. This was part of my swag bag from the 2020 Virtual International Tea Festival. I don’t have a lot of information on this tea, as it’s product page was not available when I was writing this review, but I’ll do my best!

The leaves are wiry and very dark brown. There are some deep, stone fruit aromas from the dry leaf, which are really intriguing. Traditionally, Phoenix Dan Cong is an oolong tea and is grown and harvested from Phoenix Mountain in China. This tea looks like a straight tea and I don’t believe that there are any other added ingredients (just the way I prefer my oolong teas…).

Preparation

The Tea House recommends steeping Phoenix Dan Cong in 190°F (88°C) water for 1 minute. I opted to use 185°F (85°C) water and did an initial steep for 1 minute.

First Taste

Phoenix Dan Cong steeps to a pretty light golden yellow colour. It has a remarkably smooth texture, with notes of plums or apricots (both lovely stone fruits), and just a floral finish at the tail end of each sip. The tea does a nice job of just coating the inside of my mouth with flavour, which is quite well balanced. Zero astringency and zero bitterness and just overall quite smooth and easy to drink.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Phoenix Dan Cong a total of seven times (eight times total with the same leaves). The colour of the steeped tea definitely gets darker, a more golden yellow and the flavour deepen as well while staying fairly consistent in terms of the flavour profile. I found that the fruity notes got stronger while the floral notes did back off a little bit. Still an easy tea to drink though, and quite enjoyable.

My Overall Impression

I loved The Tea House’s Phoenix Dan Cong. I thought that the tea was a lovely experience from start to finish. I really appreciated the level of complexity in the flavour profile and how it subtly changed as I drank it. It really made for a delicious cup of tea and I thought it had some great flavour for a tea that doesn’t contain additional ingredients. The floral finish was really one of my favourite parts of the tasting experience with this oolong.

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DavidsTea’s Campfire Hojicha

Campfire Hojicha by DavidsTea
Green Tea / Flavoured
$8.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Always on the look out for new teas to try, and this one happened to just jump into my shopping cart a while ago because why not? I’ve been really enjoying hojicha in the last year or so, so it’s been fun trying new takes on a classic tea. Campfire Hojicha came in a sealed, resealable silver pouch. I still can’t get over the fact that DavidsTea opted to do such tiny print on their packaging. As someone who wears glasses and has relatively healthy eyes, I don’t have an issue with it, but I imagine there are people out there that would because of the font size. Just not the most consumer friendly – and yes, I’ll keep mentioning it until it gets changed because it’s a thing.

Campfire Hojicha doesn’t smell like a campfire to me at all, it smells like caramel with hints of apple, but I’m not getting anything from the dry leaf that reminds me of smoke or campfire. Campfire Hojicha consists of: apple, roasted green tea, caramel pieces, caramel pieces, sweet blackberry leaves, and natural flavouring. Don’t ask me why there’s caramel pieces listed twice, but they each have a different sub list of ingredients. The first one consists of: condensed skimmed milk, sugar, glucose syrup, butterfat, sorbitol, mono and diglycerides. The second one consists of: sugar and glucose syrup. Confused? I’m a bit as well.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Campfire Hojicha in 85°C (185°F) water for 3 to 4 minutes. I opted to do an initial steep of this green tea blend for 3 minutes.

First Taste

Campfire Hojicha steeps to a deep orange, with some tea debris that managed to escape my stainless steel infuser (if this type of thing bothers you, I’d recommend using a filter bag for your loose leaf tea). It smells like caramel, and it actually tastes really sweet. The primary taste that I get is caramel, with some apple fruitiness at the tail end of each steep. I find it overly sweet, and I think that’s because of all the apple and caramel that is in the blend. I don’t really taste the hojicha base, or get any smoky traits in the flavour profile.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Campfire Hojicha once, and found that the flavour didn’t really change, just got a bit weaker in terms of flavour. It stayed pretty sweet the second time around.

My Overall Impression

I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Campfire Hojicha. I was just a bit disappointed that the flavour of the blend itself didn’t live up to my expectations. Especially with a roasted green tea base like hojicha, I expected the roasted flavours to really shine through because hojicha isn’t usually too subtle (in my opinion). The caramel flavours were definitely overpowering a lot of the other ingredients and it overly sweet for me (and I’ve got quite the sweet tooth!). I think this blend would do better with less caramel and perhaps a heavier hand with the hojicha base, or even adding a little bit of lapsang souchong to it to really make it smoky and make me think of a campfire.

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Dessert by Deb’s Coconut Cream Pie Chai

Coconut Cream Pie Chai by Dessert by Deb
Black Tea / Flavoured
$6.00 for 25g

First Impressions

Coconut Cream Pie Chai was one of those teas that when I first read the name of the tea out loud, I was impressed that I hadn’t mixed up the words. The name is on the longer side, but it really invokes an idea in my head of what it sound smell and taste like. I’m almost not a regular consume of coconut cream pie, so I’m not entirely too familiar with how it sound taste (fair warning!). But this black tea blend came to me as part of my Dessert by Deb subscription box, and I’m always of fan of trying new teas, so here we are.

Coconut Cream Pie Chai comes in a bright fuchsia metallic pouch that’s resealable – always a nice little bonus – with a clear front so you can see the tea blend inside. It has a nice mix of ingredients and consists of organic: black tea, coconut, toasted coconut, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and palm sugar. Coconut Cream Pie Chai primarily smells of toasted coconut to me, with hints of ginger throughout. I’m almost looking for some vanilla notes to really invoke the idea of a baked good.

Preparation

While there’s no steeping instructions on the packaging, it didn’t take me long to find them on the Dessert by Deb’s website product page for Coconut Cream Pie Chai. Dessert by Deb recommends steeping Coconut Cream Pie Chai in 212°F (100°C) water for 4 to 6 minutes. I opted to do an initial steep of 5 minutes.

First Taste

Coconut Cream Pie Chai steeps to a brownish-orange colour, with an oil slick that floats on the top. This comes from all the coconut found in the ingredients, as it naturally contains oils. The aroma of Coconut Cream Pie Chai lends towards being coconut, but the flavour isn’t as coconut forward as I was expecting. I get a lot of the ginger and cinnamon coupled with hints of the cardamom, and the warming quality of those spices, while the coconut is definitely forward in the fragrance of the steeped tea, it’s not very coconut heavy in the actual taste itself.

A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep Coconut Cream Pie Chai, but found in lacking flavour compared to the initial steep. I would recommend Coconut Cream Pie Chai for just the one steep.

My Overall Impression

I thought that Dessert by Deb’s Coconut Cream Pie Chai was just okay. I think this blend had a lot of potential, but my expectations and reality just weren’t matching up. I think for those looking for a less spicy version of a chai will enjoy this blend because it does have the ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom flavours, especially in the initial steep. You do get the great warming quality of the spices, but I was hoping for more coconut-forward flavour, when compared to how the blend smells when dry and when steeped. Turning it into a tea latte would likely go a long way to making it taste more creamy and dessert-like, especially if you have some coconut milk on hand.

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