Monday, 19 June 2017

Teatourist - April and May

Teatourist have been very generous in sending me several of their monthly subscription boxes to review. I wrote in detail about them and their concept, and reviewed a whole lot of teas, in my previous Teatourist post. But two more boxes - that's 12 different types of tea! - have arrived since then, and I think they deserve a post of their own! So here we go - April and May.

April's Box

Teatourist are getting rather good at creating loose themes for their boxes. April's - as we are reaching warmer weather, brighter days, and lighter evenings - is 'Dump the Slump', and contains 'a selection that's innocent, naughty and unashamedly carefree'.

In this box we have the following: two black teas - Thieves' Brew, and Shades of Grey; two fruit/herbal - Hibiscus Flowers, and Peppermint; and two blends - Chocolate and Ginger, and the awesomely named Pumpkins Go Bananas. Great selection, and I can't wait to get brewing.

Thieves' Brew by Bev's Tea Co
I was initially attracted to this medium leaf Sri Lankan black tea because of its name. As you might expect, there's an interesting story behind it. The raw leaves of Thieves' Brew are pounded in a stone Vangedi - a type of mortar - before oxidation. Historically, this is how estate workers made their tea at home, and stole leaves in order to do so. It's actually quite a sweet-tasting tea, smooth, and beautiful without milk. The info card says 'notes of toffee and orange', and - yep - that's spot on. This is a single estate tea, and according to Bev's Tea 'the only estate in the world producing this kind of tea on a very small scale'. I couldn't decide whether this would be something I would drink everyday, or just get out for favoured guests. But the point it moot now, as it's all gone! 4/5

Shades of Grey by MDTea
This was just beautiful! A full-bodied Earl Grey with strong floral and citrus notes, aromatic and extremely satisfying. It retains the character of classic Earl Grey whilst bringing something new and exciting to your cup. A really gorgeous tea, whether infused lightly and served in delicate china, or brewed strongly and served in a sturdy mug. I got so carried away with drinking it that I forgot to take any photos. You'll have to take my word for it.  5/5.

Chocolate and Ginger by Shibui Tea
Just three ingredients in this one: ginger, cocoa husk, and liquorice root. I've never tasted anything quite so like a Ginger Nut biscuit in a cup. (Unless you count those ginger biscuits that were dunked a little too long, losing their structural integrity, and falling sploosh into the cup. Which I don't.) A three minute brew is perfectly balanced for sweetness with a gingery kick. Perfect. 5/5.


Hibiscus Flowers by Tugboat Brews
Let me start at the end of the story. Hibiscus flowers, when they're done and you're fishing them out of the teapot, look and feel so weird, like little rubbery aliens, or bizarre sea creatures. So - yeah. I just thought I'd throw that in. Anyway... This brews up a rich red colour, and if you were feeling in a vampirey mood you could pretend you were drinking blood. Or not. I first tried this hot, but actually I far prefer it as an iced tea. The suggestion is to add sugar or honey, but I really like the fruity tartness of this infusion, and it's just lovely on a hot day. Put it in a fancy glass and it feels like a proper party drink. I think it would be great served chilled, in a jug, with a little fresh fruit added. 5/5.


Pumpkins Go Bananas by Leaves of the World
Apple, carrot, ginger, pumpkin, pineapple, coriander, banana chips. This is a surprisingly sweet tea, with gentle spicy notes. The banana flavour comes through strongly, but combined with the fruits and spices it made me think of creamy fudge. The info card suggests that adding ice and shaking will leave you with something that tastes like a banana milkshake, but  actually like the idea of it hot, as a themed Halloween tea, as it tastes like sweeties. 3/5


Peppermint by Maiservas
This one had got rather left behind, as I have so much mint in my garden and seem to constantly have a pot of mint tea - hot or chilled - on the go. However, when I did get around to brewing it - gosh it packs a punch. A real tongue-tingler!

May's Box

May's box did not disappoint. The theme this month is 'Founder's Favourites', or 'So, you own your own tea company and have access to any tea you want, but what's your favourite?'. And the answer is: two (mainly) fruit/herbal infusions; one white tea blend; one flavoured Rooibos; and two very exciting black teas, a SFTGFOP, and a themed blend named after a famous detective.

Sherlock Holmes Tea by Chash The Fine Tea Co
With quintessential English Breakfast as a base, a hint of Lapsang Souchong for pipe smoke, and Ginkgo and Elderflower for brain power, this is a tea that will transport any Holmes enthusiast. I very much enjoy blends that play cleverly on their theme, but are also well-balanced for taste. This is a rich and smoky brew that rolls over the tongue, evocative of Victorian parlours, old books, and the most fascinating of mysteries. But no murder. Not whilst I'm drinking tea. 4/5.

Doomni SFTGFOP by Pekoetea Edinburgh
Well. Let's tackle the name first, yes? Doomni is the name of a tea estate in Assam. SFTGFOP stands for Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, which is rather a mouthful, and also a specific grade of tea. The info card says that this tea is rich, malty and sweet, but - surprisingly, because I love a good Assam and this is an excellent grade - I didn't find it to be any of those things. I tried it with and without milk, and brewed lightly and strongly, and although it was a pleasant black tea it didn't seem like anything special. Still a 3/5 though.

White Bellini by The Tea Experience
Inspired by the Bellini cocktail, this is a large leaf white tea, with whole freeze dried raspberries, peach pieces, and currants. It's a pretty mixture, and very fragrant; the peachy scent drifts across the room enticingly. I'm not usually a fan of anything peach-flavoured, but I enjoyed the fruitiness of this tea, and I re-steeped it twice. The info card also suggests cold-brewing overnight, and I imagine that this would create a delicious and delicate flavour. Soft and peachy. 3/5


Lemongrass & Ginger by Morgan's Brew Tea Company
Lemongrass, ginger, lemon verbena, lemon peel, green tea.
A sunny and uplifting brew: sweet and zesty with a gingery kick. Serve chilled on a melting June day, or hot on a cool summer evening. 3/5.


Apple & Grapefruit by Tea Shirt Tailored Refreshments
Apple, orange, strawberry pieces, rose hip peel, hibiscus, lemongrass, orange peel, flavouring. Brewing tea on one of the hottest days of the year (so far) I am utterly melting, and my thoughts turn to whether this will taste good chilled. Teatourist - who are always happy to give their opinion - say that yes, it will, do it. As I'm waiting for it to brew, I can't help but notice that this infusion contains no actual grapefruit, although it certainly does smell sharp enough to. It has a long brew time, 10-12 minutes, but - hot - it still tastes rather watery to me, without much body. The flavour comes out more as the temperature goes down, so this is definitely one to drink warm or fully chilled, rather than hot hot hot. More tart than sweet, but pleasant enough.

Rooibos Rhubarb Fudge by Piacha
Rooibos, apple, hibiscus, elderberries, rosehip, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberry, vanilla, calendula petals. This is one that you need to drink warm rather than hot, to allow the flavours to come through. More tart than sweet, but with subtle vanilla notes, it reminded me of rhubarb and custard sweets in tea form. 3/5.


Overall, I was very impressed with these two boxes. Teatourist have upped their game in terms of selection for each box, and hopefully there's now something for everyone in each. They've also negotiated special discount codes for some of the teas, so that when you find a brew that you love you can get a little something off a big bag of it. Good stuff, Teatourist. Good stuff.


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