Friday, July 18, 2008

Tea Begins at Tavalon, and Tavalon Starts with T!

Hey readers! As promised, I have another tea review for you this week.

Recently, I was contacted by none other than Tavalon, who requested
that I review some samples for them. For those of you that don't
know, Tavalon is one of the largest, if not the very largest, tea
establishment in New York City. So when they asked me to review some
samples for them, you might say I leaped at the opportunity - I just
could not turn it down.

And, I am pleased to say, I was not at all disappointed.

Statisticaly, in New York, there are more tea drinkers per capita than
almost any other state in the US. Also in New York, Tavalon has come
to be a household name in Tea. I often worry about large tea
companies, as it seems that the larger a tea company gets, the more
mechanized they become, and the more shortcuts they begin to take.
The larger a tea company becomes, the worse their tea becomes overall,
with few notable exceptions. However, with Tavalon, their success has
spelled out their failure. Quite the opposite, in fact. It seems
that Tavalon is now more focused on quality overall than ever before!
From the packaging to the product, I have seen few greater displays of
pure tea-related ingenuity than those present in Tavalon's excellent

The first thing I would like to discuss is the packaging. Tavalon has
some of the best packaging of any tea company I have worked with.
Each tea is shipped in a clear, reusable, sturdy plastic canister,
which comes very much in handy for storing teas later on. In fact, I
very much wish that I could order these containers in bulk to store my
loose teas in.

Printed on the bottom of each canister is the name of the blend
contained therein, as well as complete directions for brewing the tea,
including the amount to be used, the temperature, and how much time is
necessary for the brewing. Fortunately, it also tells you how many
servings it contains, so you know exactly when to send for more when
your container runs dry. On the top and side of each canister is a
second label, which also serves as a seal for the canister, which
displays the Tavalon name, as well as giving you the name of the

The labels work well with the design and appearance of the canister as
well, making the packaging as aesthetically pleasing as it is useful.

I would also make note that the shipping and customer service
experience behind Tavalon is also excellent. They always respond to
emails quickly and professionally, and leave no question unanswered,
which is something that is rare and extremely appreciated for a tea
company of their prestige.

Now, I'd like to review two of the four blends that Tavalon decided to
send my way. I will review the other two blends in some future post.

The first blend that I'd like to mention is the NYC Breakfast blend.
Tavalon's NYC breakfast blend is made from a variety of premium black
teas, rather than just one variety as most breakfast blends consist
of. This breakfast tea is actually one of the best breakfast teas I
have ever had the pleasure of sampling! The varieties that were
chosen complement each other very well - It's as if they are taking
the good qualities from the various black teas that were available,
and combined them into one. This blend is the perfect mixture of
fragrance, subtle nutty flavour, and natural sweetness. In addition,
it has the least astringent of any black tea that I have ever tasted.

The leaves are whole, unbroken leaves, as I expect from a premium
view, and there is no tea dust to settle to the bottom of the
container, which is delightful. The blend also has an excellent cup
colour, a pleasant light amber, with none of the cloudiness that is
often typical of "every day" teas such as breakfast blends. The tea
also exhibits the perfect blend between the strong flavor expected
from breakfast teas, and the subtle mixture of flavors and aromas that
accompany any premium blend.

Overall, I would rate this breakfast tea very highly, and not only do
I recommend this tea, but it is likely that I will begin using this
blend as my exclusive breakfast tea in my own home. Yes, it is that

The second blend I would like to mention, is called After Dark. As
it's name implies it is an evening tea, composed of chamomile and
dried fruits.

The dominant fruit flavors in this blend are cherry and some sort of
citrus (Orange, I think), which both come through very strongly. Now,
as many of you will know, if you've been keeping up on my postings, I
am a big fan of Chamomile tea, and as such, I am very particular about
it. In chamomile blends, what usually occurs that the the subtle,
mellow flavour of the chamomile is drowned out by the strong fruity
tones. With this blend, however, it is not the case, for while there
are very strong fruit tones in this blend, the strongest of them being
the cherry (if I am not mistaken), they do not completely overpower
the chamomile. Instead, they complement it's subtle flavor. The
cherry, in particular, does very well in contrasting with the subtle
nuttiness of the chamomile.

This blend, also, is made of large chunks of material, rather than
small, broken pieces. This tea is a dark crimson color, presumable
from the cherry, but has excellent clarity and tint. This is one of
the most delightful chamomile blends I have tasted in a long time. It
was a pleasure for me to have the ability to sample it.

These two blends are some of the best blends I have ever tasted.
Tavalon definately puts the appropriate effort into both quality of
their ingredients, and expertness of their blends.

Well, that wraps it up for this review. I give Tavalon high marks,
and my highest reccomendation. Stay tuned for my review of the other
two blends that they sent, which also should prove to be delightful.

Over and out,

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Twinings Weekly Blog Review

Hi Readers,

I just received a copy of this review from Twinings, and thought I would post it to see what you all think. Let me know what you think of it! Thanks.

By William I. Lengeman III

This is a selection of recent popular blog articles from the Twinings Tea Blog, where you will find the best tea blogs by tea lovers from around the world.

Rooibos: Some Health Information

Elliot, at the Miro Tea blog, continues his examination of rooibos, the increasingly popular herbal beverage from South Africa. Last time out, he took a look at how rooibos is processed. This time around, some thoughts on the potential health benefits of rooibos. For more on rooibos and health, look here.

Teaware: Chataku

What's a chataku? As Katrina pointed out, in a recent post at The Tea Pages, it's "a saucer (coaster) that sits under the small handleless Japanese teacups known as yunomi." Chataku are also known in China as chatuo.

"Stringing Tea": Intro & Part 1

If the phrase "stringing tea" doesn't ring any bells, it's because it was apparently coined in an interesting post by Mellow Monk. The introduction and part one of the multi-part post relate how a three-person film crew from Europe's Arte TV network followed him on a tea-buying expedition as part of their research for a documentary on Japanese green tea.

About Twinings

The Twinings Tea Blog discusses everything to do with Tea; from the fascinating history, the many different varieties, and special brewing techniques to the latest health news, unique teapots and famous tearooms. Nobody knows tea like Twinings. The finest ingredients coupled with 300 years of experience makes Twinings the tea experts. With nearly 200 Twinings blends to choose from, there is something special for everybody - every one has its own special aroma, flavour and character.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Iced Teas and New Darjeeling Blends from Mighty Leaf

Greetings readers!

I have two teas to review with you today.  Since I have already posted a full review, I will not be focusing on packaging, the shipping experience, customer service and so forth, as I have already done so.  Instead, I will focus only on the teas themselves.

The first tea is one of Might Leaf's newer Darjeeling blends - Okayti Darjeeling Autumn Flush Oolong.  This is a particularly enjoyable blend.  I have always been fond of Oolongs, and there are very few teas that can beat those grown in the Darjeeling region.  Teas from the Darjeeling region have characteristics that are distinct from teas grown in other regions - much like Idaho potatoes taste very different than potatoes grown in other states, and Georia peaches taste differently than Utah peaches, and so forth.

I was particularly impressed with the blend for a number of reasons.  The first of those reasons is its excellent, natural mildness.  This is a very moderate blend, with a lot of flavor, and almost no astringency, which gives it a delightful flavor in the cup.  It is apparent that this tea was harvested at the peak of it's maturity, and processed very quickly, so as not to become bitter.  The quality of this blend is similar to much more expensive imported blends that I have tried.  Additionally, the leaves are whole and unbroken, which is uncommon in a less expensive tea.

I was also particularly impressed with the clarity of this blend in my teacup.  It is difficult to find Darjeelings that do not contain some cloudiness when brewed, but Mightly Leaf has found one, making this brew as aesthetically delightful as it is mild and delicious.

The second blend I will discuss today is one of Mighty Leaf's excellent iced blends.  Here in Utah, the temperatures can become quite extreme, and one must naturally find something to do to keep the temperature down - And iced teas fit the bill splendidly.

Of the three samples that Mighty Leaf sent me, there was one that I was impressed with above all others - A blend called Island Breeze.  This blend represents a very skilled mixture of herbs which compliment each other in all of the right ways.  It contains hibiscus, kiwi, and berries.  The thing that I was expecially impressed with in this view is how well the hibiscus blended with the fruit flavors.  I have sampled alot of hibiscus-fruit blends, and it is almost invariably the case that the delicate flavor of the hibiscus is overpowered by the strong fruity tones, however, that is not the case with this blend.  The hibiscus stood it's own, as was as pronounced as any of the flavors in the blend.

I was also pleased that I found only naural ingredients in this blend - No artificial flavors or colors - only pure fruit and herbs.  Mighty Leaf's Island Breeze just might be one of the best-blended iced teas I have ever sampled, and I give it my highest reccomendation.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to stay tuned to our blog throughout the summer, as we have many new and exciting reviews that will be coming out soon.  Also, this will be the first summer that I will be able to give proper attention to the blog, as this is the first summer that I have not gone into the mountains for 2 months.

Over and out,