Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Northern Tea Merchants: Wa-Koucha Black Tea

(Photo sourced from www.northern-tea.com - sorry had camera issues!)

I have long been a black tea lover, as regular readers will know. I love it pure, flavoured, Earl Grey being a particular favourite, as I often say.

Today though, I have experienced a black tea that, in all honesty, I believe, is the finest example of black tea I've ever tasted. It was love at first sip.

And it's a tea I'm really serious about.

The little treasure that I write about today is Wa-Koucha Black tea from Northern Tea Merchants.

From the moment I snipped open the packet of this Japanese black tea, I knew this was going to be a tea that I'd really enjoy and when I actually tasted it I knew this was something special. And I loved it so much I'm on the third pot already.

The tea has a wonderful aroma that is gentle and fruity and is instantly alluring. The first thing I do when opening a new tea is to inhale the aroma of the tea when dried and again after brewing. Sometimes they can smell quite differently after infusion.

I was very cautious regarding the brewing process as advised on Northern Tea's page for the Wa-Koucha tea. I decided on the first infusion to brew for two minutes and increased it to three on the second. Personally, I preferred it after the three minute infusion, but was careful not to go over the three minutes.

The tea brews to a lovely dark mahogany colour, with a vibrant copper tinge which is very attractive indeed. The tea comes from the second 2012 harvest.

Without a doubt Wa-Koucha is extremely flavoursome, whilst at the same time, retaining a delicateness that is a pleasure to taste. It is very unique as it's a black tea that has some of the qualities of green tea that I love most, a slight grassy flavour, a ever so slightly astringent but pleasant aftertaste that dances merrily on your taste buds.

In addition this tea does have fruity tones, too, which makes this tea. It reminds me ever so slightly of a plummy flavour which adds another layer of taste to a tea that is just wonderful to drink.

And the smoothness of the tea, and it's texture is perhaps one of the elements that I love most about it. It is as smooth as honey, easy to drink - a delight for every one of our senses.

This morning I was on the sofa really struggling to get warm and in a fair bit of discomfort due to my bones which are thinning due to a medical complaint - I was feeling pretty gloomy I don't mind admitting, and tired too after a long shift at work last night, but as I took my first sip of the tea, experiencing it's wonderful texture and glorious taste, this really lifted my spirits, boosted my energy levels and after a couple of cups, really started to feel more like Laura then I have in a couple of days.

Wa-Koucha is just about a perfect tea as you can possibly get. The aroma is gorgeous (both dried and after infusion), the texture is smooth and mellow, the flavour is full and enjoyable but retaining a charming delicateness, it's after taste a little stronger but pleasant. This tea has all the elements of a tea that is about as close to perfect that I have yet to experience.

It's safe to say this is a tea that I, unknowingly, have been searching for for a long, long time.

But the only downside is Wa-Koucha tea is extremely rare. As James from Northern Tea Merchants explains that he has only been able to acquire 750g's. That's all. He has divided it into 15 packs of 50g's so if you want to try this gorgeous tea, then get in quickly (this morning, a Twitter friend of mine brought a pack, so there is one less available!!!!).

I know that I almost always write positively about tea, but this blend exceeds expectations. It's special because it tastes exquisite, in addition the value available is very low so if you want to try this wonderful tea I'd do so now!

As regular readers know I am incredibly fond of Northern Tea because they never let me down on the most important thing as a serious tea drinker - quality. And with Wa-Koucha I continue to be impressed.

If you really, really want to be impressed then you HAVE to try this tea. Do not let this gorgeous, superb blend slip away. And at £4.99 for 50g's it's an affordable piece of luxury.

Once you have tried this tea you will never look back. One experienced you will never forget it. And somehow the tea you always thought was your favourite will never quite seem the same again. This tea creates a impression and as someone who has tried many different tea's, that is hard to do.

Thanks to James for introducing me to this glorious tea!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Tea From Vietnam: Fish Hook Green Tea

Quite recently, I've been enjoying a lot of green tea. I always enjoy green tea of course but I've been making far more of it recently. And I love all sorts of green tea. There are so many flavours out there to choose from but when I received a recent package of samples very kindly sent to me from Tea From Vietnam I have gotten excited about drinking it pure and without added flavour, which I haven't done in some time.

I received plenty of samples in the packet so essentially just closed my eyes and picked out the first tea. It so happened to be a very vibrant and interesting green tea called Fish Hook.

It's named Fish Hook simply because that is what it looks like - the hooks you use when fishing! The leaves are small and curled tightly!

Unsure about this tea having never tried the blend, I brewed this tea for just a minute. The packet said between 30 seconds and two minutes so I thought the mid-way point would be best.

This tea brews to a glorious, shimmering light green colour, which is a joy to look at, and the aroma of the unbrewed tea is very woody and grassy.

I will say that this tea, due to it's unique taste, is a green tea that would be enjoyed more by the green tea connoisseur rather then the tea drinker who is experimenting and trying green tea for the first time. It's a really unique tea that has wonderful qualities but is also very different too. Far different to the green tea you'd find on the supermarket shelves.

Fish Hook is a very earthy, natural tea. This reminds me very much of Yunnan black tea, as it has a lovely, nutty element to it, with a rich, smooth flavour to it. It is also ever so slightly grassy, the element of green tea that is very famous.

It's very light green, watery appearance hides a very strong, flavoursome tea, and you really cannot judge this tea by appearances. It's easily one of the strongest green tea's I've ever tried!

Though I brewed this tea correctly, this tea does have a natural astringent quality, which again is why I think a newbie green tea drinker would struggle with this particular blend, but for an experienced green tea drinker as I, I really do like the slight bitter edge this tea has.

And Fish Hook has a awesome, strong and unforgettable aftertaste.

On this very wet, gloomy and miserable Friday afternoon, and trying to get over a chest infection, this tea has given me a much needed and exceptionally tasty boost!

Once tasted, this tea is extremely memorable. It's a good quality, pure green tea and it's nice to experience that once in a while. I love green tea with added flavours, such as lemon or blueberry, but to experience it pure is lovely, too!

This is a high quality, delicious tea and I certainly cannot wait to try the other flavours that Tea From Vietnam has sent me. 

Do check out their website. They have lots of wonderful tea to try - they do black tea and oolong, too!

And there will (happily) be more reviews coming soon from Tea From Vietnam!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Piacha Tea: Rhubarb Rooibos

It's fair to say that you won't find many reviews of rooibos tea on this blog. It's not a tea that I will ever drink on a frequent basis, there is something about it's natural sweetness that I find off putting (probably as I don't seem to have much of a sweet tooth lately). But it does have it's qualities, and one of them is it takes to flavours extremely well!

It's also fair to say that I have a huge (tea) crush on Piacha tea at the moment! They are a fun, vibrant company who make gorgeous tea. And their fabulous Apple Tea is easily my favourite new tea of the year, so far.

Recently they very kindly sent me out some samples and included was this Rhubarb Rooibos tea.

This tea is a wonderful cornucopia of flavours and ingredients. Not only does this tea contain rhubarb, but, amongst other wonderfully delicious things there is: hazlenut pieces, strawberry pieces, pineapple, vanilla, elderberries, apple and caramel.

The picture doesn't do this tea any justice - the tea is brightly coloured and is a gorgeous copper colour. A very real treat.

When I opened the packet there was a definite sweetness. In fact it reminded me of my favourite boiled sweets - rhubarb and custard. Mouthwatering and very interesting. I closed my eyes, inhaled it's aroma and looked forward to trying this very busy tea!

Whilst the tea was infusing, the lovely aroma of the tea was rich and creamy and I could smell it from upstairs, it seemed to waft around the whole house which was lovely, rather like a tea version of a gorgeous Yankee Candle!

There is so many elements to this tea that it's really rather hard to know where to start, so I think, I'll just dive in.

This is a VERY sweet tea, so for those of you who like your tea sweet, this is a nice way to enjoy a sweet tea without adding sugar, so it's totally guilt free. It's also caffeine free, so for those of you who want to cut back on caffeine, or, for instance, who are pregnant and want a great caffeine free alternative this is the tea for you!

Rhubarb is, naturally, the most prominent flavour. It's rich and fruity, but there is a slight sharpness too which is a brilliant alternative to the sweetness that is the base for this tea.

There is a smooth element to this tea which I found to be soothing on my throat which has recently been really croaky as I've had a chesty cough and that smoothness comes from the vanilla and caramel which has also been included into the tea. The vanilla is rich and full flavoured, the caramel is more present in the aroma of the tea rather then the actual taste but you do get hints of caramel weaving through the tea, usually as a slight aftertaste.

What I really enjoyed is the added fruit. I have to admit the strawberry was a little bit in the background but I certainly could detect the sharpness of the pineapple. The addition of quite sharp fruits really does balance out well with the sweetness of the caramel and vanilla. Without these fruits this tea could be heavy with it's sweetness but actually is light, easy to digest and comforting.

As we are now in autumn there are a couple of outdoor events coming up, Halloween and Fireworks Night. This would be a really great tea to serve up at your fireworks party. It's warming and makes your entire body feel as though it's glowing. I think making up a huge pot and handing this out to your friends and family on firework night would go down a real treat! It's actually almost like a desert in a cup. And because you don't add milk to rooibos and certainly don't need sugar, it couldn't be easier to keep your family and friends warm on November 5th!

I was genuinely impressed with this tea. I will admit that I don't feel as though I'll ever be the greatest fan of rooibos tea, however, I certainly enjoyed this wonderful Rhubarb Rooibos and am actually enjoying my third cup today!

It is a charming tea.

And to Francesca at Piacha, I have been really impressed with everything I've tried so far. Thank you for the samples. I'm really enjoying them!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Forleaves Tea Company: Russian Caravan

Today's tea review is a Russian Caravan from Forleaves Tea Company.

Russian Caravan is a really special blend of black tea, but I will admit that it's a blend that I have a up and down relationship with. To purchase a cheap blend of Russian Caravan is a nightmare, it tends to be a smoky mess and not very enjoyable to me, at least. But when you get a very special blend, or a high quality blend it's a real treat for the tea lover.

Russian Caravan is a blend that is named after the special camel caravans that transported the tea from China to Europe via Russia. The journey would take a year and through the journey the tea would take on a subtle smokey taste.

When you buy a cheaper blend, the tea is quite often flavoured with a artificial smoky flavour which is often too overpowering, leading to the tea taking on a bizarre orange hue,  that is oily and unpleasant.  A good Russian Caravan will have a subtle smoky taste that is detectable but not overpowering.

Forleaves Tea Company's take on Russian Caravan is amazing. It is strong and robust but especially tasty and gorgeous to the taste buds. It's gorgeous, fruity aroma is just mouthwatering and I am thoroughly enjoying my pot of the blend this morning.

This tea infuses to a gorgeous, coppery colour, so it's a tea that is beautiful for all of the senses.

Though it is a strong tea, and those who love their tea especially strong will adore this tea, it's flavoursome and extremely pleasant to take black, without milk and it certainly has it's delicate qualities, too!

I don't find this blend a particularly smoky blend, which I am thankful for. I am no great lover of lapsang souchong, or any of those smoky tea's and so this is a brilliant way to enjoy Russian Caravan without the negative aspects.

There is a rich, fruity flavour to this tea which I was really, really surprised about and it's not something I have experienced before with Russian Caravan - but, I LOVE IT! There is a plummy element to this tea, and it's slightly reminiscent of Twinings Plummy Earl Grey blend, which is a blend I really enjoy.

Probably due to the fruity element there is a nice sweet aftertaste too, it's just really gorgeous and perfect if you like your tea sweet but don't like to add sugar or artificial sweeteners.

This is a tea that is strong and satisfying but has wonderful soft, almost feminine elements, too.

I liked this tea, and I really think it has charming qualities. You do get a strong, satisfying brew from the tea, but it's just nice to experience from it's fruity and ever so slightly woody aroma to it's rich, robust taste. As a black tea lover I am really quite taken with this fabulous blend.

In a nutshell, this tea is wonderfully fruity, but that fruitiness does not detract from the superb quality of the tea. It's warming and a great autumnal tea. I'm nice and snug as I sit here and sip on my second cup of the day.

Forleaves has produced a wonderful blend of tea. Do have a look around their brilliant site and see what else catches your attention - they do some wonderful flavours! Why not treat yourself?