Chai Castle’s Black Currant

Black Currant by Chai Castle
Black Tea / Flavoured
$12.50 for 100g

Chai Castle has provided me with Black Currant for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Black Currant came to me in a cute resealable black sample-size pouch. The label very clearly tells me everything that I need to know about the tea – including the varying sources of the black tea used in this blend (very handy to know!). Chai Castle also sent me samples of their retail packaging – some lovely matte black resealable bags with coloured labels.

Black Currant has a beautiful aroma to it. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten black currant fruit before, but I have had black currant candy (so good!), and this pretty much smells like candy to me. There’s a nice sweet aroma to it, and I can pick out the individual ingredients in the blend. Black Currant consists of: black tea (Ceylon, South India, China), natural flavour, black currants, and black currants leaves.

Bonus fun fact, Chai Castle is a local company! Chai Castle is based out of Maple Ridge, which is part of the Metro Vancouver area.

Preparation

Chai Castle recommends steeping Black Currant in 100°C (212°F) water for 3 to 5 minutes. My initial steep of Black Currant was for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Black Currant steeps to an almost burnt orange colour. There’s a nice fruity sweetness that wafts up from the steeped tea that is really quite inviting. On first taste, I found that there was a good amount of fruity notes while I could still make out a slight robustness from the black tea base. I found no astringency or bitterness when I steeped Black Currant for 4 minutes. The balance between the black tea and the black currant is quite pleasant. I found the fruit provided enough sweetness that I don’t really think that it needs any additional sweetener. I had this tea hot, but after cooling it down I had popped in a couple of ice cubes and found it to be quite delicious as well.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Black Currant twice. I found with the first resteep, the flavour was lovely and very similar to the initial steep. I found for the second resteep, the flavour wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. As per my usual, I add an additional 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I would say that Black Currant is good for one more steep.

My Overall Impression

I loved Chai Castle’s Black Currant. I really enjoyed the fruity flavour and thought that the flavour of the black currant really comes out well with this black tea blend. It’s both delicious hot and iced, so it makes for a versatile tea regardless of the weather. I would definitely recommend resteeping it once to get all the flavour out of it since it’s so tasty!

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Tetley’s Earl Grey

Earl Grey by Tetley
Black Tea / Flavoured
$4.74 for 48g (24 sachets) via Amazon

First Impressions

Taking on Tetley’s Earl Grey was a bit of a challenge for me. Not because I find it difficult to review Earl Grey teas, or teas in general, but because I know that it’s quite beloved by a lot of people (including a lot of my coworkers). It’s a classic tea and it’s a readily available classic tea, which makes it all the more popular. Earl Grey comes in a familiar canister, with a plastic lid that fits snug into place and a foil seal that kept the tea bags from getting stale.

Each tea bag is a familiar round bag with no tag. The dry leaf has a light bergamot aroma to it, I was hopeful for a little bit more. Earl Grey consists of black tea and natural flavour. The packaging mentions Orange Pekoe, but it’s not listed under the ingredients to specify the type of black tea.

Preparation

Tetley recommends steeping in boiling water (100°C/212°F) for 3 to 4 minutes, and suggests “serve clear or with milk and/or sugar”. My initial steep was for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Earl Grey steps to a reddish brown. I found that the flavour to better than I expected considering how light the bergamot aroma was in the dry leaf. I can taste both the black tea base and the bergamot flavouring. Although I did steep it according to the recommendations, I found that there was a slight bitterness at the end of each steep. I did a second initial steep at 3 minutes and found that it was still present.

I did add a touch of honey and evaporated milk to my cup, and found that it covered up the bitterness easily.

A Second Cup?

My attempt to resteep Earl Grey was disappointing as the flavour of bergamot was missing. I would say that Earl Grey is good for just one steep.

My Overall Impression

I thought that Tetley’s Earl Grey was just okay. For the price, I was pleasantly surprised by the initial steep of Earl Grey (although I think for future attempts I’d do even shorter steeps). I found that this tea took very easily to being doctored, since the bergamot wasn’t overwhelming. I think it’d be a great candidate for milk tea if you’re looking for an easily accessible tea to use!

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Recipe: Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea

Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea is something that I’ve grown up drinking. If you’ve ever popped into a Hong Kong cafe, you’ll be able to find it on the menu and everyone has their own way of making it up – but the general idea remains the same: black tea, milk, and sugar. And don’t be skimping on the fat content, because the richer the milk, the better! Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea is also frequently referred to as “pantyhose tea” or “silk stocking tea” because of the material traditionally used to filter the tea – but that’s just too much effort (and to much of a mess!) to do at home.

I grew up drinking Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea at home, where the tea used was bagged Orange Pekoe (Red Rose brand, if you’re curious). Any black tea will do, but I keep Red Rose on hand for making milk tea. When I was younger and I drank this, I’m pretty sure it was more milk than tea with a lot of sugar. I’ve since adjusted my ratios to become more tea, less milk, and a bit less sweet – but the condensed milk is still a must (or else I just use evaporated milk and white sugar…).

Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea (Hot) Recipe

1 black tea bag
300mL boiling hot water
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk or 1½ tablespoons evaporated milk
Sweetener of your choice*

Steep the tea – I usually do 3 minutes.
Stir in sweetened condense milk or evaporated milk.
Add sweetener of your choice (if using evaporated milk).
Enjoy!

Hong Kong-Style Iced Milk Tea Recipe

2 black tea bags
300mL boiling hot water
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk or 1½ tablespoons evaporated milk
Sweetener of your choice*
Ice cubes

Steep the tea – I usually do 3 minutes.
Stir in sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk.
Add sweetener of your choice (if using evaporated milk).
Pour over ice, and give it a stir.
Enjoy!

* If not using sweetened condensed milk.

Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea is a nice treat to have, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had it every single meal at this point in my life – and after dinner! It goes great with breakfast (sweet or savoury), and it’s just a nice little treat. If you’re watching your sugar intake, I’d recommend going with the evaporated milk. You still want it to have a full-bodied richness in terms of the creaminess, so don’t use regular milk (it’s too thin).