India

Black Tea Review: American Tea Room Kensington

Kensington

Company/Brand Name: American Tea Room

Name: Kensington (English Breakfast Blend)

Category: Black Tea Blend

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Assam, India and Yunnan, China

The Leaves: Dark brown to midnight black leaves with a splash of golden tips. The dried leaves have an inviting sweet-earthy scent.

Additions: None

Flavor: A full-bodied and malty tasting brew with a touch of sweetness and just enough oomph! to get you going in the morning

Overall: Yunnan and Assam are two of my favorite black teas, but I had never thought to combine them. Good thing that the American Tea Room did it for me! This tea blend combines the best of two worlds and makes a rich and luxurious cup of tea.

Tea Review:

Since this English breakfast tea brings together two black teas that I adore, I was kind of expecting fireworks overhead when taking my initial sip. Even though the sky didn’t light-up with splashes of color, I was still dazzled by the combination of flavors.

At first, when the tea was still rather hot, I detected a note of sweetness. Just behind the scenes is a subtle, yet tantalizing flavor of bittersweet chocolate.

As the tea cooled, the maltiness seemed to really kick in, which made my cup even more interesting and enchanting.

The Kensington blend has a nice refreshing finish, just enough astringency to eloquently round out a robust and sumptuous brew. Plus, I love that little tingle on my tongue after each sip!

The overall experience left me feeling rather revitalized and empowered, ready to tackle whatever the day may bring.

American Tea Room Sample Packaging

Packaging:

I had ordered a sample size of the Kensington loose tea, which came in a black bag with colorful label that included steeping directions.

However, one little annoyance with these bags is that they don’t re-seal, but on the plus side they do have a thick foil-lining to keep the tea tasting fresh longer.

Preparation Tips:

On the tea package, it recommended using a water temperature of 200F and an infusion time of four minutes.

I tried to follow these instructions fairly closely; occasionally I did let the leaves steep a minute longer out of habit, but I didn’t find that it made a significant difference in the taste.

As with most of my recent reviews, I used my six-ounce glass teapot. Since there were no specific directions about the amount of water or loose tea to use, I decided to go with the general guideline of one level teaspoon.

I do recommend using filtered-water, if possible, to allow all the wonderful nuances of this tea to really shine.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – I was able to get two infusions from the Kensington tea. The first was definitely much more robust and the second retained the maltiness of the first infusion, but was mellower tasting.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea just click the link below, it will take you directly to the American Tea Room web page for the Kensington tea. Enjoy!

Kensington

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: Yes

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Black Tea Review: English Tea Store Darjeeling Mim

ETS Dargeeling Mim

Company/Brand Name: English Tea Store

Tea Name: Darjeeling Mim (second flush)

Tea Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of Tea Leaf:  Northern India

The Leaves: The coloring of the leaves remind me of camouflage clothing because of the variety of natural colors. Juxtaposed to this rugged-outdoorsy look the leaves smell sweet, somewhat floral and fruity.

Additions: None 

Flavor: A unique tasting black tea that has notes of sweet fruit and flower petals, with just a touch of dry-bitterness 

Overall: 3.8/5

This was my very first experience with sampling a Darjeeling tea. I’ll be honest; I was expecting something quite extraordinary because I had read that Darjeeling is considered the champagne of teas.

Even though my socks weren’t knocked off during that first cup, it was still a pleasant and interesting experience that I wouldn’t mind repeating.

Packaging:

I had ordered the Estate Teas sampler pack and one of the samples was the Darjeeling Mim.

Each one-ounce sample was shipped in a plain, black bag that appeared to be thick-plastic. All the bags had a white label with the name of the tea. However, no brewing tips where included, so I had to go the English Tea Store’s website for more information.

The tea pouches are re-sealable.

As a side note: When I received my Estate Teas sampler pack order, I discovered that two of the advertised teas were missing, both the Lover’s Leap and Margaret’s Hope. To compensate for the difference, I did receive duplicates of the Formosa Oolong and Nonsuch samples.

In all fairness, the sampler webpage does state that substitutions may occur, due to availability. Here again, I can’t complain because of the great value I received; about 8 ounces of tea for 8 bucks.

Tea Review:

The aroma of the brew is slightly sweet and flowery, similar to the fragrance of the dried leaves.

I found the taste to be rather distinctive, especially when compared to other black teas I’ve tried. The taste is a tad sweet and fruity, with just a hint of a fragrant flower like jasmine.

To counterbalance the almost perfume life quality is a touch of dry-bitterness. The tartness rounds out the cup nicely and keeps the tea from becoming too in love with itself.

The overall body is lighter than most black teas, more refined even. Nonetheless, a taste experience not to be missed.

Compared to other black teas, which can be strong and robust like prize-fighters, the Darjeeling Mim is delicate and sweet-tempered. For some reason the image of a girl dancing to classical music in a vineyard comes to mind when sipping this tea.

Preparation Tips:

The English Tea Store recommends that this tea be steeped for 2 to 5 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil.

However, based on the reading I had done about Darjeeling tea, I decided to try a lower water temperature, just to see if it would make a difference.

I found that when using water at the boiling point (212F), the brew became slightly more bitter and the leaves smelled as if they were scalded. So, I stuck with using water just under the boiling point, between 190 and 200F.

No instructions where given on the English Tea Store’s website about how much tea or water to use  so, I went with the general recommendation of one teaspoon of tea per cup of water.

For my filter method, I used a T-Sac in the smallest size (Size 1).

Vendor Provided Sample: No 

Affiliate Links: No

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Amy

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

If you’d like to purchase this tea from the English Tea Store just click the button below. Enjoy!

[button link=”http://agirlwithtea.com/english-tea-store” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] English Tea Store[/button]

Black Tea Review: English Tea Store Nonsuch

ETS Nonsuch

Company/Brand Name: English Tea Store  

Tea Name: Nonsuch

Tea Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of Tea Leaf: South India

The Leaves: The leaves appear dark brown to black in color. The smell of the leaf is slightly sweet, with a hint of citrus fruit

Additions: None 

Flavor: A medium-bodied tea with fruity and floral notes that are rounded out by a touch of maltiness and tartness

Overall: 4.5/5

I found this tea to be quite interesting and complex. Each cup revealed new nuances that kept me engaged cup after cup.

Packaging:

The Nonsuch was part of an Estate Teas sampler pack I had ordered. My samples were shipped in plain, black bags that appeared to be thick-plastic. Each one-ounce sample had a white label and on the label the name of the tea was included. In addition, the pouches are re-sealable.

Unfortunately, no brewing instructions were included with my order, so I ended up going to the website for steeping tips.

As a side note, I didn’t receive all the tea samples in the Estate Teas collection. Instead, I was shipped duplicates of two teas to compensate for the two that were missing. The webpage does stipulate that substitutions may happen, due to the unavailability of some types of tea. In addition, I received a great value; only eight bucks for about 8 ounces of tea!

Tea Review:

The initial flavor in my cup is fruity, almost lemony. Then there is a delicate floral note that reminds me of orange or jasmine blossoms.

Next, as the warm liquid washes over my palate, just a hint of maltiness is apparent. There is also a tobacco like quality. Not like cigarette smoke which is harsh and overpowering, but sweet and smooth like a fine cigar or high-quality pipe tobacco.

Lastly, my cup has a tart taste, an almost lemon-like finish that lingers until the next sip.

Interestingly, as I drank the Nonsuch, the image of a beautiful garden with blooming citrus trees came to mind. I am sitting on a bench and next to me is a dainty porcelain plate filled with juicy lemon slices. Then, a light breeze drifts by carrying the sweet and subtle fragrance of fine tobacco smoke. What a great escape even if only for a moment!

Preparation Tips:

For the best tasting cup, the English Tea Store recommends that the Nonsuch tea be steeped for 2 to 5 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil. I usually like to steep black tea leaves for a good 4 to 5 minutes, but this tea doesn’t need it. Within 2 to 3 minutes, I found the perfect brew.

Although, it is fun to play around with different steeping times because this tea has lots to reveal. You never know when a new taste might appear.

No instructions where given on the English Tea Store’s website about how much tea or water to use therefore, I went with the general recommendation of one teaspoon of tea per cup of water.

For my filter method, I used a T-Sac, which can be a little tricky to use, but is quite convenient; no filter to rinse out. All I had to do was steep and toss.

Vendor Provided Sample: No 

Affiliate Links: No

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Amy

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

If you’d like to purchase this tea from the English Tea Store just click the button below. Enjoy!

[button link=”http://agirlwithtea.com/english-tea-store” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] English Tea Store[/button]

Black Tea Review: English Tea Store Assam TGFOP

ETS Assam TGFOP

Company/Brand Name: English Tea Store

Tea Name: Assam TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)

Tea Category:  Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of Tea Leaf: India

The Leaves: The leaves are dark brown to black in color with a few golden colored tips

Additions: None 

Flavor: A smooth, earthy and robust black tea with a comforting biscuity/malty flavor, and just a touch of sweetness

Overall: 4.0/5

This was my first time tasting a loose leaf Assam and I really enjoyed the experience. It is one I plan to repeat a zillion times over!

Packaging:

In the Estate Teas sampler pack I had ordered, I received a one-ounce sample of the Assam TGFOP. My sample was mailed in a thick-plastic, simple black and re-sealable pouch with white label. The label indicated the name of the tea, but did not include brewing instructions.

Disappointingly, two of the teas advertised were not sent. However, I did get duplicates of two other teas to compensate for the difference.  In addition, the sampler webpage does state: “substitutions may be made according to availability.” Not to mention the incredible value I received from ordering the sample pack; I got 8 ounces of tea for eight bucks!

Tea Review:

The aroma of the brew brought to mind warmed tortillas; a pleasurable fragrance that invited me to take my first sip.

There is a nice earthy-robustness to the brew that is enhanced by a biscuity flavor that I have not experienced before. I say biscuity rather than malty because the taste reminds me of warm dough. Overall, I found this dough-like quality comforting and engaging.

Then, there is a just touch of sweetness. Lastly, the finish is smooth and leaves me wanting more.

Preparation Tips:

I could not find steeping directions for the Assam TGFOP on the English Tea Store’s website, but the Estate Teas sampler pack webpage recommends: “For the best brew, these teas should steep in water that has been brought to a rolling boil for 2 to 5 minutes.”

Because there were no tips on how much tea or water to use, I went with the general guideline of one teaspoon of tea per cup of boiling water. Next, I allowed the leaves to steep for about 4 minutes using a T-Sac paper filter.

Vendor Provided Sample: No 

Affiliate Links: No

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Amy

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

If you’d like to purchase this tea from the English Tea Store just click the button below. Enjoy!

[button link=”http://agirlwithtea.com/english-tea-store” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] English Tea Store[/button]