Sunday, December 13, 2015

Oolong Gone

Oolong and herbal blend
Amoda Tea

All organic ingredients: Oolong, hibiscus, lemon peel, ashwagandha root, strawberry leaf, rose buds, licorice root, sweet orange extract.

Oolong Gone serves as my second review of Amoda Tea's November monthly tasting box.

The colors in Oolong Gone are so rich, I could simply put it on display. It looks like a wedding tea. The oolong leaves are a beautiful burgundy. Again, I'm impressed with Amoda Tea's (combined with choice of ingredients.

Specifically, the hibiscus. Hibiscus is tart and has a lot of personality, so I'm curious to see if it dwarfs or enhances the oolong, which is usually delicate in flavor. There's also the ashwagandha root, which looks like ginger. Ashwagandha will be a first for me. I notice citrus and hibiscus in a first smell of the tea, so I'm expecting that to lead the flavor.

I would normally never make an herbal tea in my gaiwan, but I'll make an exception for the oolong base. It calls for 4-8 minutes, which seems like a wide range to me, so I'll pick 8 minutes for the full effect. I expect a longer steep to enhance the hibiscus, though.

I'm surprised! I smell the oolong first, in a dusty sweet tone. That sweetness could be enhanced by the rose buds, but it's definitely still oolong. It's a ruby-red color that hints at pink.

The taste is strong with the red hibiscus, but it's much more sweet than tart. The directions suggest a cold brew, and I agree that would be the best way to serve this tea. It's not the straightforward oolong flavor you would expect from your gaiwan, but a fun treat I'd love to have at a garden party.

This tea was provided by Amoda Tea.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sugar and Spice Black and Rooibos tea

Black and rooibos blend
Amoda Tea

All organic ingredients: Ceylon, rooibos, orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, all-spice, elderberries, peppercorn, ginger, licorice root, vanilla, brown sugar extract, orange extract.

I stumbled across Amoda Tea on Twitter when they were working on a monthly subscription package. Now, I've gotten a preview with their all-organic November Tasting Box!

It's a slim little box, nicely packaged with four tea blends of different caffeine levels, biodegradable tea filters, and tasting notes.

Included are Amoda Tea's new blends: Sugar & Spice, Oolong Gone, Lime Green with Envy, and a Spring Clean herbal.

Since it's the Christmas season, I had to start with the spiced tea. I've never tried a black/rooibos blend before. We have an air stagnation warning and burn ban here south of Seattle, and the dense, low fog is making me crave warmth.

The dry tea smell just leaps from the bag. It takes a couple sniffs to identify orange peel and vanilla as that extra punch to the brown cinnamon. It's deliciously sweet but with cardamom and elderberries to keep it rooted. The ginger and licorice, which is often too strong in blends, are supporting undertones and not overpowering.

I'm brewing the Sugar & Spice in my small Brown Betty. The steeping directions call for freshly boiled water at 4-5 minutes, so I'll go with 5 min. I've pre-warmed my teapot to appease the Welsh tea gods, and my iPhone timer is at the ready. I like my tea strong, so I'm using 2 Tbsp and about 10 oz of water.

Toasted aspects come out in the liquor smell, like cardamom and peppercorn, with cinnamon following. There's a licorice root influence when the tea cools down. It's deep red like rust.

The first taste reminds me that this has rooibos. I had expected a bolder black tea flavor. Orange wafts from the cup. The wet leaves have some visible squares of unfurled black tea, plus the expanded spices and orange bits. It's sweeter tea than I normally drink, so I'd reserve this for after a holiday dinner.

The November Tasting Box is a lot of fun. I'd use it to try new flavors just for fun, or then commit to larger volumes of tea with the free shipping currently offered to subscribers.

This tea was provided by Amoda Tea.