Morgan had raved to me about Mariage Freres teas and scoffed at me like I was a naive fool for not being familiar with them , so I had to give this tea a try. The next day after she reminded me about the tea (she had given me some for my Birthday one year, but she didn’t label it, so I had no idea!), I went up to Napa with some friends and visited Dean & Deluca where they carried a line of Marige Freres teas. After smelling each tin carefully, I selected a black tea – French Breakfast. It was less daring than the other blends – but it had the perfect mix of a black tea (Earl) with floral hints, so I thought it would be the perfect daily afternoon tea I could brew at work.

I have to admit, it took me a few cups to get used to it  (because it is a rather odd blend),  but now I LOVE IT. It is such a smooth black tea and goes super well with a little cream and sugar. More than an afternoon, it has become my morning, in between morning and noon, and late afternoon tea 🙂 It has the perfect blend of black tea boldness with floral gentleness. To me, it’s lovely and it also makes me feel so regal when I’m drinking it. I’ve kept the black box and  packaging tin on my work days – which whisks me away to Paris day dreams every now and then.

Mariage Freres French Breakfast. My new love.

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Mount of Olives: Jersusalem Mint

Mount of Olives: Jersusalem Mint

Lately, I’ve been really into finding new and unique teas at specialty food discount stores (i.e. Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, etc). I’ve found that because consumers are typically not willing to pay premium prices for tea (especially in this economy), a lot of good teas often go to discounted retailers pretty quickly. Yes, the risk is always that the tea leaves are not their freshest – but I use these as an opportunity to give something new a try (at a low cost of entry). I’m usually pleasantly surprised at the teas I find…and if I’m not, then it’s not a big loss.

Last week while I was supposed to be furniture shopping at Marshalls, I of course got side tracked and not only unexpectedly indulged in buying a new purse, but also came across Mount of Olives Treasures Tea: Jerusalem Mint with Pomegranate. Being the mint tea lover that I am combined with a name like that, I had to give it a go. I’ve been pretty obsessed with this tea lately. I’ll be honest, I can’t really taste of the pomegranate (which I frankly don’t mind since I’m not much into fruity teas). But, it has a nice cool mint taste that is soothing and not overpowering.

Quick Description:

“From ancient days to modern times, mint tea has been a beverage enjoyed throughout Jerusalem. Feel refreshed and revitalized with this unique, lively combination of cool mint and soothing lime tree blossoms. The perfect way to regain perspective and inner peace, our modern blend of ancient ingredients is specially designed to relieve tension.” (Side note: Do I detect BS? Why yes, yes I do)

Directions:

Use one bag per cup. Pour boiling water over tea bag and steep 3-5 minutes. If desired, serve with honey or other sweetener. Also delicious when iced.

EVALUATION

Presentation: Pretty generic package. Comes boxed with 20 tea bags – pretty standard.
Content: Each bag contains the perfect amount of tea for one cup – a nice blend of peppermint spearmint, little mint with lime tree. I do not see any pomegranate though. The ingredient list states: peppermint, spearmint, lime tree, little mint, olive leaves, lemon grass, grape leaves, pomegranate leaves, hyssop. Ohhh, pomegranate leaves….that’s why I’m not seeing the pomegranate, nor tasting it for that matter….

Taste: I’ve tried this tea several times and really like the taste. The mint is definitely present but not overpowering. The primary leaves I can taste is the spearmint, peppermint, and olive. What I also appreciate is that you can keep the tea bag in the cup without the taste becoming overwhelming. I like to sweeten the tea with either Agave, honey, or raw sugar. While I don’t know the age of the leaves – the “best before” date states 07/2012, so I am fairly confident in it’s freshness.

FINAL VERDICT:
I’d give the Mount of Olives Treasures Tea: Jerusalem Mint with Pomegranate  a 3.5 stars out of 5. For a simple tea to enjoy any time of the day, this is a great pick. Sure it’s not the top of the line, but it is refreshing and soothing.  I purchased this tea for about $2.00 (a pretty good steal), but would be willing to pay a premium in the future.

Pyramid Tea Bombai Chai Black

Bentley's Pyramid Tea Bombai Chai Black



I was in Ventura, CA last week with my best friend helping her with different errands. We went into Tuesday Mornings to get a few things and their tea rack caught my eye.  I saw a selection of Bentley’s teas and selected the Pyramid Tea: Bombay Chai Black. I had heard of Bentley’s before and quickly in-store did a Google search to find some reviews. All were pretty decent but none specifically reviewed the Bombay Chai. It was only $5.49 for a 16 tea sachets so I thought why not give it a try. Tea like this usually would cost $12- $15+ a tin.

Quick Description:

“Bentley’s Tea is proud to offer loose tea in pyramid silken sachets, the finest method of brewing a single cup of loose leaf. We only use premium estate grown tea, hand plucked using ancient methods that are thought to be the finest in the world…”

Directions:

1 bag per cup/ water temp: 195 deg/ 3 min steeping time

EVALUATION

Presentation: Very nice presentation to make a fantastic gift. The loose leaf is really surrounded by authentic silk which adds a really nice touch and acts as a great filter.

Content: The Bentley tin comes with sixteen silk sachets, however it seems there is roughly about a teaspoon of loose leaf in each one. For chai standards, this is definitely not sufficient – especially since the tea is not very strong (see “taste” below). You can definitely visibly see the ginger, cardamon and clove traces which is nice.

Taste: I’ve tried this tea 5 times this week and must say that the taste is pretty week. Even when steeping for 3 mins + the taste does not strengthen. I like my chai really black and then add cream. The taste always felt watered down and the cardamon/ginger flavor was supressed. I was trying to find the package date on the tin but was not able to find it – so I could get a better sense how fresh the leaves were. Given if it was in Tuesday Mornings – it probably was not that fresh.

FINAL VERDICT:

I’d have to the Bentley’s Pyramid Bombay Chai a 2.5 stars out of 5. Despite the length of exposure of the tea leaves, the quantity of loose leaf within each sachet just does not seem substantial to make a strong cup of chai. I can’t imagine the watered down taste would improve that much had the ingredients been fresher. If you are paying full price for this, I think you’ll be disappointed.