Friday, December 21, 2007

A Delightful Stash of Tea

Hi all,

I hate to say it, but this looks like the last post of 2007! Happy New Year everyone! I hope you've all had, and still are having, a wonderful holiday season. Remember if you have not done so to request a $5 gift certificate on the right side of this blog. It's my gift to you.

Recently, I received a nice review package from Stash Teas. I am a long time fan of stash teas, and have always found them near the top of the list as far as quality is concerned.

For this review, I will start by listing the items included in the review package, discussing my reactions to the packaging, etc, saying something about each of them, and then explaining which item was my favorite and why I think that.

The first thing that impressed my upon examining the contents of the parcel was the packaging. Each of the teas is stored in a very durable foil-type sack. Each sack has a sturdy zipper seal on it to keep air out and hold the aroma in, helping to prevent your tea from becoming stale. Additionally, each bag features a nice description of the tea it contains, explains the proper brewing temperature, and provides intelligent brewing suggestions. The packaging is also very attractive in it's color scheme and design. Definate shelf appeal.

The first item is the very popular Silver Needle White Tea. I have tasted a lot of white teas since I have been a blogger, and found each of them to be slightly different than the others. Stash Tea's Silver Needle White is a delicious, very mild full-leaf white tea. As far as Whites go, this one is pretty good, but not the best. I noticed that the cup was very slightly cloudy. The flavor, however, is fantastic. As good as Adagio's whites, but not quite on par with some of the new organics I have tasted (more about that in a later review). Overall, I would say that this is a very fine white tea. It's well above the average, and it's apparent that Stash has put some considerable effort into ensuring high quality.

The second item is Fancy Golden Tippy Hao Ya. This is a specialty black tea with a unique smoky flavor. I found this tea overall to be higher quality than the white tea. This tea does not have any clouding at all, resulting in a clear and crisp cup of tea. I found myself really enjoying the smoked flavor of this tea. The tea also has a nice color - a nice golden color - which adds to the appeal. This tea's flavor profile is that of a mild black tea with the smoky notes. It's also slightly sweet, with less astringent than most blacks. It is a very fine tea, and I would recommend it to anyone.

The third is a Formosa Oolong Fancy Grade. As far as oolongs go, this is near the top of the charts. It has that delicious, mild nutty flavor common to oolongs, but also has some additional fruity notes that aren't so common. These are lovely features for an oolong to have, though. This tea also has no clouding, and a great color in the cup. A nice golden - not as deep as the Hao Ya, but a nice soft and mellow golden. This tea is also slightly sweet, needing no added sweetener at all.

The final tea is Gyokuro Asahi Pearl Dew. This tea is unique and interesting. This is a green tea, and is unique among greens. It has a subtle sweetness and a strong vegetal taste which I couldn't get enough of. It also has excellent cup color, but does cloud a bit. This is made up for, however, by the nice, whole uncrushed leaves and the unique blend of flavors. This is a very rich tea, with lots of flavor and punch. It's intensity lies in it's flavor blending, and it's underlying vegetal taste.

Overall, the Pearl Dew was my favorite of these, although it was hard to decide between that and Tippy Hao Ya. I adore the flavor blends in the Pearl Dew, really like the tint of the liquid, love the smell, and mostly love that it's high quality and good for me.

You can visit Stash, and order their free catalog at

Hope you've enjoyed the review. More to come early this January, so keep watch!

Over and out,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Intoxicating Aroma

Before I begin this post, allow me to first express my sincerest apologies to my readers and the tea companies that are in Que for review here at Insani-Tea. I am behind schedule here, and the dates I have given for reviews have come and gone. I have been frantic for the last couple of weeks, as I am also a student at a university, and the last part of the semester and finals week were taking their toll. Now, however, finals week has ended, so I have some extra time with which to manage the blog.

On that note, I'll move right into the content of today's review.

Some weeks ago, I was contacted by a representative of Aroma Tea Company in California. He offered to send me a sample of a couple of his most popular products, and of course, being a tea lover, and a lover of trying new things, I accepted the offer.

Aroma is apparently a popular tea shop in San Francisco that offers free tea tastings, and free tea learning with their Tea Master. This, I thought, was a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, finding myself some distance from California, I am unable to visit with Mr. Daluz (although the time may come, as I may go to graduate school in San Diego), however thanks to his samples, I did have a lovely opportunity to taste his teas, and I was quite impressed.

The thing that initially drew me in with his offer is that the two samples he offered to send were both ones that I had never heard of before. This made it more interesting, and ultimately a lot more fun and enjoyable for me. And trust me, there was nothing run-of-the-mill about these teas.

First, I will identify and explain each of the samples that Mr. Daluz sent, and then explain which one I prefer overall and why.

The first sample was of an interesting Oolong called Blue People. It's called Blue People because the loose tea looks like small blueish pebbles. When I first opened up the sample pack, I thought it looked remarkably like fish tank pebbles. The scent of the loose tea, however, was delightful. Very green and earthy smell. My first brew of the Blue People oolong was impressing also. It has an extremely unique and enjoyable taste, and has moved it's way to the top of my list of all-time favorite teas. Blue People is fermented with a mixture of liquorice root and mint, and while you can taste only a little of the mint flavour, the liquorice root comes through significantly more.

There's something inexplicably nice about the combination of premium oolong and liquorice flavour. This oolong is probably one of the finest specialty teas I have tasted. The tea is also naturally sweet, having a very pleasant flavour with nothing added. Quality is absolutely important to Aroma, and it's apparent in this product. Another nice thing about this particular tea (which is true of many oolongs) is that it can be brewed at least 3 or 4 times without
suffering quality.

The second sample was another oolong, called Milk Aroma Oolong. This is another one of their very popular teas, and another that I hadn't heard about until I was offered a sample. The Milk Aroma Oolong is also very delicious. It seems slightly sweeter and smoother than the blue people, and almost seems a small bit thicker. It could almost be described as "creamy." It gives of the aroma of sweet steamed milk, which is part of how it got it's name.

The tea originated in Taiwan, where the leaves steamed with milk, and then oxidized under open sunlight. This gives it a smooth texture and a unique, slightly sweet and creamy taste.

This is another tea that requires no sweetening unless you have a sweet tooth. It has enough natural sweetness that I might even go so far as to classify it as a dessert tea (perhaps the Blue People also.)

Both of these teas are very high quality, unique, and delicious on their own. My personal favorite, however, was the Blue People Oolong, because of it's earthy taste with the liquorice note, and because of it's unique character, and also because of that weird look people give
you on the bus when you explain to them that you are drinking blue people. :)

Overall, Mr. Daluz' teas come highly recommended, and of you are ever in the San Francisco area, I'd encourage you to stop by his tea shop and have a look around.

You can visit the website and place orders at:

Also, in celebration of their 2-year anniversary, Aroma is currently offering 20% off all teas and tea products!

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Aroma Tea Shop for the ability to review their teas,

Over and out,
Relznuk Zero Relznuk