DavidsTea’s Honey Ginseng Defence

Honey Ginseng Defence by DavidsTea
Oolong Tea / Flavoured
$12.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Honey Ginseng Defence is actually a tea that I picked up in January of this year when it first came out. I got to try a little bit in store and decided it was interesting enough to buy a little bit to steep at home. As always, DavidsTea’s loose leaf tea comes in silver foil bags that are resealable. If you buy the tea online, they come in heat-sealed, resealable bags but if you buy it in store, the bags aren’t heat sealed. Makes for easier opening, in my opinion.

The aroma of Honey Ginseng Defence is primarily that of a berry fragrance, with some floral and honey notes. Honey Ginseng Defence consists of oolong tea, goji berries, ginger, marigold blossoms, ginseng, natural honey and goji berry flavouring.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Honey Ginseng Defence in 90°C (195°F) water for 4 to 5 minutes. I followed the steeping instructions and my initial steep of Honey Ginseng Defence was for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Honey Ginseng Defence steeps to a light yellow (honey yellow…?). There’s some sweet floral fragrance notes, and a hint of fruitiness. The flavour is primarily floral and honey sweetness, although I can taste a bit of the ginseng, a hint of ginger, and the creamy oolong base. While I do know what goji berries smell and taste like, I don’t really get a goji berry flavour from the tea – the fruitiness that I do find reminds me more of mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, etc.).

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Honey Ginseng Defence twice, adding an extra 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found by the second resteep, the flavour of the tea was primarily that of the oolong base – which has some great buttery and creamy qualities to it. If you love oolong, you’ll probably enjoy resteeping this blend. If you were more of a fan of the tea as a blend, you may find it to be a bit more ‘meh’ to your liking.

My Overall Impression

I liked DavidsTea’s Honey Ginseng Defence. I thought that the blend was really pleasant and was quite tasty. I’m a bit disappointed that the tea as a blend didn’t resteep that well, but I’m glad that the oolong had some nice quality to it and it allowed for a tasty steep. I wish that the tea had more of a goji berry flavour to it, despite having both goji berries and the flavouring of goji berries, I found it to be on the lacking side. That said, the ginseng was noticeable, as was the honey, so it still made for a nice cup of tea.

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Field to Cup’s February Adventurer Box

February Adventurer Box by Field to Cup
$34.97USD for 1 Adventurer Box (per month)
$356.69USD for 12 Months ($29.72/mo)

Field to Cup has provided me with the February Adventurer Box for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

I was very happy when Field to Cup reached out to me about trying their monthly subscription boxes. Field to Cup offers one-off or multi-month subscriptions (3, 6, and 12 months). The options are called Adventurer, Discoverer and Explorer. Discoverer and Explorer both have options of black or low-caffeine teas, while Adventurer is geared towards tea drinkers who enjoy straight teas, while also including some seasonal teas specifically chosen for each month. I opted to try the Adventurer box because I greatly enjoy straight teas.

The inside of the cardboard box has a sticker that has some tips for making tea, as well as a handwritten note to me! Included as a card about the Adventurer box (4 teas each month, with 2 being premium/rare teas and seasonal teas included) from Haim and Shirley, who are the co-founders of Field to Cup. Also included is the steeping guide, which includes information for each tea in regards to how to steep each one, and tips on how to gauge water temperature if you don’t have a variable temperature kettle or thermometer. The February Adventurer box includes a bonus fifth tea, which is fitting for the season.

The teas in the February Adventurer box are: Blackened Heart (black tea), Hand-Rolled Delight (white tea), Mexican Hot Chocolate (black tea and rooibos blend), Organic Assam-azing (black tea), and Organic Darj-Oolong (oolong tea). Each tea came in a sealed, resealable foil bag with a clear label on the front that includes details of tasting notes, ingredients, steeping instructions. Also included was a rolled stack of paper steeping pouches in the box.

Blackened Heart is in a compressed, heart-shaped tea and the 10g bag had 3 hearts. The aroma is primarily that of roses. This tea consists of dark tea (fermented black tea), and rose petals. I’m most curious about how this one will look steeped when the heart opens up. Hand-Rolled Delight is a hand-rolled white tea from Africa. I found the leaves to be wiry, and almost feels like it’s been loosely rolled and twisted together. There’s a mild vegetal aroma, and slightly smokey in a way. Mexican Hot Chocolate is described as being a spicy blend, when I opened the bag I smell apples and cinnamon. This black and rooibos blend consists of: organic rooibos, organic black tea, apple, organic cacao beans, organic cardamom, organic cinnamon, organic clove, organic black pepper, organic chili flakes, organic ginger, organic peppermint, chocolate bits, natural cream flavouring and natural vanilla flavouring.

From left to right: Blackened Heart, Hand-Rolled Delight, Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Organic Assam-azing consists of black tea TGFOP1 from India, there’s a very mild aroma to the dry leaf. It smells a little bit malty. Organic Darj-Oolong consists of a partially fermented organic darjeeling from India. I found that the leaves to be a bit wiry, with a light floral aroma.

From left to right: Organic Assam-azing, Organic Darj-Oolong.

Preparation

Blackened Heart is recommended to steep 205°F (96°C) water for 4 minutes. My initial steep of Blackened Heart was in 200°F (93°C) water for 4 minutes.

Hand-Rolled Delight is recommended to steep in 175°F (79°C) water for 2-3 minutes. My initial steep of Hand-Rolled Delight was in 175°F (79°C) water for 2 minutes.

Mexican Hot Chocolate is recommended to steep in 205°F (96°C) water for 4-5 minutes. My initial steep of Mexican Hot Chocolate was in 200°F (93°C) water for 5 minutes.

Organic Assam-azing is recommended to steep in 200°F (93°C) water for 2-2.5 minutes. My initial steep of Organic Assam-azing was in 200°F (93°C) water for 2 minutes.

Organic Darj-Oolong is recommended to steep in 190°F (88°C) water for 2-3 minutes. My initial steep of Organic Darj-Oolong was in 185°F (85°C) water for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Blackened Heart steeps to a beautiful light orange. I found there to be an obvious rose aroma to the steeped tea. There’s a nice sweetness to the tea, but still floral and yet savoury all at the same time – I think that has to do with the fermented black tea in the heart. With the natural sweetness from the rose petals, I don’t think that it really needs any sweetener.

From left to right: Blackened Heart, Hand-Rolled Delight, Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Hand-Rolled Delight steeps to a light yellow colour. There are some buttery cream notes, with a light smokiness to it. I found it very pleasant and light on the flavour, which is starkly contrasting compared to the rest of the teas in this box.

Mexican Hot Chocolate steeps to a deep brown, with a very obvious spicy aroma to it. I found that the flavour to be a bit sweet and I can definitely taste the heat of the chili. I don’t really taste any of the chocolate, unfortunately, but I do believe it is there because there’s a slight oil slick on the top from the melted chocolate that’s present in the blend. Fortunately, I don’t taste the rooibos base since I’m not usually a fan of it.

From left to right: Organic Assam-azing, Organic Darj-Oolong.

Organic Assam-azing steeps to a dark golden brown. I found it to have a pleasant caramel flavour, although not as sweet as a true caramel. It also has a strong malty flavour to it, which I find to be quite typical of Assam black tea.

Organic Darj-Oolong steeps to a slightly lighter golden brown, especially when compared to Organic Assam-azing. There are some nice floral notes, which make for a gentle sweetness in the tea. I found it to be very smooth and tasty. The tasting notes mention toasted cumin, but I don’t get that impression from my cup.

A Second Cup?

From left to right: Blackened Heart, Hand-Rolled Delight, Mexican Hot Chocolate.

I resteeped Blackened Heart three times, adding an extra 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found the flavour to remain fairly consistent throughout, but there was considerably less rose flavours by the third resteep, so I would recommend it for two resteeps.

Hand-Rolled Delight resteeped quite well, I did two additional resteeps with the same leaves and found the flavour to be pleasant. I think a third resteep might be possible, but I found that the flavour in general for this white tea is quite light.

I attempted to resteep Mexican Hot Chocolate once, and found that it didn’t taste as good as the initial steep. The spice level wasn’t as strong so it didn’t remind me as much of chili spices.

From left to right: Organic Assam-azing, Organic Darj-Oolong.

Organic Assam-azing was resteeped twice, I found that each steep was similar to the initial steep – strong and malty. I enjoyed each resteep of this Assam tea.

For Organic Darj-Oolong, I resteeped it twice. The floral notes and gentle sweetness were strongest for the first resteep, and the second resteep tasted fairly similar to the initial steep.

My Overall Impression

I loved Field to Cup’s February Adventurer Box. I really enjoyed the variety of teas in this box – it’s quite nice that there’s a blend of straight teas with the seasonal blends. The packaging is very straight-forward and informative, it’s all tied together nicely with the steeping guide and the labels that provide so much information.

Field to Cup suggests that each box results in 4o to 72 cups of tea, depending on how many resteeps and leaves you use – and really makes the box affordable for how much tea you get in it. The February Adventurer box is 90g of tea, but most of the teas do really well with being resteeped, which just adds further value to the tea. My favourites in this box were the Blackened Heart and the Hand-Rolled Delight.

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Aroma Tea House’s Phoenix Dancong

Phoenix Dancong by Aroma Tea House
Oolong Tea / Straight
$8.00 for 20g

First Impressions

Phoenix Dancong came to me in a foil and plastic resealable bag. The name of the tea appears on a bright, printed label with little other information. The back has the address for Aroma Tea House. The aroma of this tea reminds of roasted nuts – a mix of cashews and chestnuts come to mind. It has a deep, roasted aroma that is quite pleasant.

The leaves of Phoenix Dancong are beautiful – there are some beautiful long, wiry leaves that are reddish-black in colour. Phoenix Dancong is a straight oolong tea. I wasn’t able to find it on the Aroma Tea House website, but this tea comes from Guangdong Province, China.

Preparation

I opted to do an initial steep of Phoenix Dancong at 195°F (90°C) for 2 minutes. If you ever get a tea and you’re not sure about steeping times and temperature, or this information isn’t provided, you can use my steeping guide.

First Taste

Phoenix Dancong steeps to a golden orange. The aroma of the tea has a slight nuttiness that reminds me a lot of the dry leaf. The flavour of nut with a mild sweetness, it does continue to remind me of having a bit of toasted flavour. I found with a 2 minute steep, there is a slight astringnecy that is at the tail end of each steep. The astringency isn’t off-putting though, and gives it a layer of complexity that works well with the toasted flavours.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Phoenix Dancong six times (seven steeps total), adding an additional 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. The flavour stayed fairly consistent throughout with the toasted nuts flavour, and the sweetness did disappear by the second resteep. The astringency did get a little bit more pronounced with each steep, but it was still tasty.

My Overall Impression

I resteeped Phoenix Dancong six times (seven steeps total), adding an additional 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. The flavour stayed fairly consistent throughout with the toasted nuts flavour, and the sweetness did disappear by the second resteep. The astringency did get a little bit more pronounced with each steep, but it was still tasty.

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