Arbor Teas

Recent Tasting Notes

88

This is lovely, light and slightly toasted. Smooth.

This tea is almost comparable to the Wuyi oolong from JK Tea Shop. I say almost as this one seems to have fewer infusions…BUT, the advantage is this one is organic.

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97

near the end of my sampler for this tea. I love the lightness from the oolong and natural plum taste from the dried plum. I wish more companies would blend some flavored oolongs…

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92

My first “real” cup of tea of the day… this afternoon, hubby took me out to lunch and I did drink their iced tea, but it was nothing spectacular. At least I did get some caffeine though and am not suffering now from caffeine withdrawal.

Anyway… this tea is fantastic. It has a very lovely finish – it isn’t as astringent as some Assam teas, it has more of a coppery like finish that melds well with the slightly acidic/citrus-y note that I am getting from the tea. It is lovely, full-bodied and flavored, with a nice, robust malty note and a very pleasant baked quality to it. Everything that I want from an Assam and even more!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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83

Made another pot of this tonight. I’m going to miss this sample when it’s gone!

We’re having our first truly cold night of fall here in Atlanta. I volunteered to make a pot of tea for my friend and brother, and my friend suggested I make something that would be good for a sore throat. This tea immediately came to mind. I served it with a little sugar and a good dollop of honey. It’s wonderful and soothing.

I know, I put honey in everything!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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89

Alright, Organic Special Grade, take two.

This time I’ve steeped it for seven minutes. Last time it was just a tad too mellow for my tastes, so this time I decided to experiment. (Especially since a friend told me I could just let it go for as long as I wanted.) It brewed up incredibly dark as usual, and everything the leaves touch turns dark amber.

I also added sugar and honey, a tablespoon of each. And this is so good. The extra two minutes have made a great difference. It is still not bitter in any way, but the flavor has strengthened. It’s so incredibly smooth and sort of buttery. It does dry the mouth out a little, though. And it does definitely taste roasted and earthy. I might have to add this to my shopping list…

Upped the rating. And I will see what happens at nine minutes eventually. :D

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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90

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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97

Still love the light and fruity taste of this tea!

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78

Steep Information:
Amount: ~5 tsp
Water: 1,200ml 185°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Served: Hot

Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: sweet, vegetal
Steeped Tea Smell: sweet, fruity, slightly vegetal
Flavor: slightly bitter, slightly astringent, vegetal, silky, sweet
Body: Light
Aftertaste: slightly astringent
Liquor: translucent orange-brown

This is the second Arbor Teas sample I have tried, both so far have had a sweetness to them without needing additives. I very much am enjoying these teas!

Arbor Teas sent me this sample for free in order for me to review it and get the word out about their teas in October as it is Fair Trade Month. It arrived USPS Priority mail, but had to wait a few days at the post office for me to pick it up. The compostable packages are opaque and have listed suggested steeping parameters and a stapled on paper tag with the specific tea information. They include a note about re-packaging your tea into opaque air-tight containers for longer shelf lives.

From http://www.arborteas.com/the-environment.html
“Our dedication to protecting the environment pre-dates our love of tea, which is why we’ve taken every step we can think of to reduce the environmental footprint of Arbor Teas.

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we’re always looking for further opportunities to “green-up” our company, giving back to the planet whenever we can. Here’s just a quick summary of the measures we take at Arbor Teas to reduce the environmental impact of our business:
• Our entire catalog of teas is certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.
• We are the first and only tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. In doing so, we’ve significantly reduced both the carbon emissions and waste stream associated with our products."

And from their letter to me “every tea in out catalog is certified organic, and nearly two-thirds are Fair Trade certified.”

Find Steepster reviews of the tea here.

Resteep: 185°F for 3 minutes, 1,200ml – the same other than the tea became medium bodied not light

images: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2010/10/arbor-teas-loose-leaf-white-tea-organic.html

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec
AmazonV

iced was pretty good as well

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80

Steep Information:
Amount: 9.9g
Water: 1200ml at 195°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Served: Hot

Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: sweet floral vegetal, a little nutty
Leaves: green and silver thin twisted strands about an inch long each
Steeped Tea Smell: lemon, citrus, black tea scent
Flavor: slightly astringent, crisp black tea, very clean and light
Body: Medium
Aftertaste: sweet citrus floral notes
Liquor: translucent light red-brown

This was a very nice crisp tea for sipping in the afternoon while browsing the internet. It is not a strong tea to kick you awake in the morning, but more one to be sipped and savored. I very much enjoy this tea, I enjoy when a company strives to be organic and fair trade so long as it is not at the cost of the tea. This tea shows that they are able to provide a high quality tea while striving to help tea farmers and the environment. It does however lack anything completely unique to make it a 4/4 leaves tea (a WOW) that i must keep stocked at all times.

Arbor Teas sent me this sample for free in order for me to review it and get the word out about their teas in October as it is Fair Trade Month. It arrived USPS Priority mail, but had to wait a few days at the post office for me to pick it up. The compostable packages are opaque and have listed suggested steeping parameters and a stapled on paper tag with the specific tea information. They include a note about re-packaging your tea into opaque air-tight containers for longer shelf lives.

From http://www.arborteas.com/the-environment.html
“Our dedication to protecting the environment pre-dates our love of tea, which is why we’ve taken every step we can think of to reduce the environmental footprint of Arbor Teas.

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we’re always looking for further opportunities to “green-up” our company, giving back to the planet whenever we can. Here’s just a quick summary of the measures we take at Arbor Teas to reduce the environmental impact of our business:
• Our entire catalog of teas is certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.
• We are the first and only tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. In doing so, we’ve significantly reduced both the carbon emissions and waste stream associated with our products."

And from their letter to me “every tea in out catalog is certified organic, and nearly two-thirds are Fair Trade certified.”

Find Steepster reviews of the tea here.

Resteep 2: 1,200ml 195°F 3min a bit too bitter + sugar = OK
Resteep 3: 1,000ml 195°F 2min brisk w/sugar, nice and refreshing + sugar = good
Resteep 4: 1,000ml 195°F 2-2:30min weak, added 30 sec and got nice light crisp tea + sugar = good
Resteep 5: 1,000ml 195°F 3-3:30min weak, added 30 sec and got nice light crisp tea + sugar = good
Resteep 6: 1,000ml 195°F 4-5min weak, added 60 sec and still weak, stopped re-steeping added to iced tea and didn’t drink

Cold:I took the first hot steep and put it in the refrigerator as it was a hot day. I then added the leftovers of each brew. It was a nice light refreshing black iced tea, it needed a bit of sugar. I used raspberry torani, MilitiaJim used Kiwi. Delicious. I think I enjoyed this as an iced tea better than hot.

images: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2010/10/arbor-teas-loose-leaf-oolong-tea.html

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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89

My second pu-erh from Arbor Teas! This one didn’t brew up as dark and coffeelike as the Ancient Palace, but the taste is very similar.

The tea leaves smell stronger, however. I steeped mine at a little over 5 minutes, but next time I think I’ll try for longer. This infusion is delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I am in the mood for something very, very flavorful. It has that “aged” flavor that I described earlier with my first pu-erh, and it tastes just as smooth. It has a very soothing quality to it, and the flavor makes me feel sort of nostalgic for some reason, though I am still unfamiliar with these teas.

All in all, this is definitely worth trying and experimenting with. Which I will. And I’m sure these experiments will involve honey. Mmm. Off to work!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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86

I have a problem. I love smoky teas. Simply love them. And this is a problem why? Because there are a lot of good smoky teas out there that I would enjoy having around… but I don’t think I really need 18 different lapsangs in my pantry. (Okay, realistically it’s more like five or six, but that’s still probably a wee bit excessive.) It’s just too hard to choose between all the good smokies out there to decide what truly needs to have a place in my pantry.

Take this tea, for instance. It’s tasty! The initial smell of the dry leaves was of bacon and campfire and was almost a bit rough/heavy smelling – I really thought this was going to be a bit heavy handed. But after steeping, the smell melded into a gently smoky tea that makes me think of crisp fall days with campfires burning in the distance. It’s not as sweet as some of the Bohea teas I’ve had lately but it isn’t tarry, heavy or thick like some not-quite-as-yummy Lapsangs I’ve had in the past (or those that require milk to smooth). Instead, it’s smooth, soft and I’m pretty sure I can taste actual tea under that smoke – shocking! There’s even a flash of something very fresh and almost vegetal green tasting – just a flash.

The second steep (4:00) isn’t quite as soft and tea-y than the first steep but it’s still quite tasty, reminding me of Golden Moon’s Lapsang Souchong, which really got me started on my smoky tea love. As it cools, the smoke taste smoothes back out and it almost starts to taste like I put a pinch or two of raw sugar in it. Really enjoyable.

So we get back to my problem. There are just too many good smoky teas out there that I want to give a good home – and this is one of them. I think when my GM Lapsang runs out, I’ll have to see how this one fits in that gently-smoky-and-light-textured smoky tea niche that the GM Lapsang has been filling lately. I think it will do very nicely.

Mmm. Smoky.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Dan

I think we need a meeting of LSA (Lapsang Souchong Anonymous) I love smoky teas also and I don’t think having 18 around is excessive. I love mixing LS with Oolong and a strong base tea to make Russian Caravan.

Angrboda

I have the same problem. I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling ever so slightly guilty if I have too many smokies around the house. Like I’m neglecting all the other types of tea. I’ve given up choosing a favourite LS though. At least until I meet one that isn’t just great but actually knocks me off my feet. In the meantime I just make sure that I’ve always got one and let the brand be a smaller priority. Right now I’ve got TeaSpring’s and A.C. Perchs. Perhaps I ought to do a side by side of the two…

Also, I second the LSA suggestion. “My name is Ang and I love lapsang!” :9

Auggy

Yay for LSA! As long as it isn’t a group for those trying to break the smoky tea habit… I don’t want to break my habit. I mean, I could quit any time but I like smoky teas, so I don’t want to quit. So yeah, I’m not really an addict. I could stop. I just don’t want to. Right? Right!
(Okay, now I really am craving something smoky, dammit.)

Heyes

I love lapsang tea (although I’ve only had two kinds) but I can’t imagine multiple steepings.

Auggy

Mmm, multiple steepings are the best! I think second steeps tend to be sweeter, at least on some of the Lapsang/Bohea I’ve tried. Though not too many are successful on third steeps (at least for me).

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85

This is a really lovely Oolong. The liquor infuses to a lovely amber color. The aroma is somewhat woodsy and vegetative to me. The flavor has a beautiful underlying sweetness to it, I can taste an apple-ish quality to the tea. It has a deep woodsy undertone to it. Some earthiness and just a hint of vegetative quality to the taste – the fragrance of the tea is more vegetative than the actual taste.

A very nice Oolong!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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79

I chose this one as my final evaluation sample from Arbor Teas, as I’ve had good experiences with tuo chas in the past and wanted to see how this one measured up. I like that each piece is individually wrapped – it just appeals to the packaging nerd in me. The smell of the cake is mild, with a little bit of grain/cereal to it.

I gave it a quick rinse in hot water and then set it up for four minutes of steeping. The resulting liquor was dark and cloudy brown, and did not have the same level of reddishness to it I’d gotten used to seeing in pu-erhs. My first impression of the flavor was its full and savory character – similar in that way to the Camel’s Breath tuo cha from CTG, but dialed back just a bit.

This does not have the wonderful sweetness I got from Arbor Teas’ special grade pu-erh, but it does have lots of deep, stewy flavors. This might sound crazy, but I can actually imagine this iced next to a plate of ribs. Okay, that might actually be really nasty, but those are the kinds of flavors this one reminds me of. Looks like there’s plenty of strength left for multiple steeps, so I’m planning to give this another couple rounds later today.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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85

This is the second Arbor Teas sample in a row I’ve tried which has a noticeable natural sweetness to it. There aren’t many teas I’ve found this quality in (most notably CTG’s competition grade Tie Guan Yin), but when I do I find it really enjoyable.

This oolong does a great job of walking the line between green and black characteristics, showing vegetal notes along with some roastiness and tannins. It’s got a very rich mouth feel, with a great juicy quality to it. In addition to the typical tea flavors, I’m getting hints of fruit and spice, making it an interesting tea for sipping and trying to figure out. Really nice cup of tea. Didn’t have time to do multiple infusions this time, but will next time.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

I don’t usually like Jasmine tea but this is exceptionally different. I tend to find jasmine teas bitter and disgusting which is definitely not the case for this one. This tea was actually tasted like jasmine, was not bitter at all and was very enjoyable.
I didn’t put any sugar in this cup but think that it would be a nice additive to the second cup (just for fun).

I would whole heartedly suggest drink this tea while studying. It really does “zen” you out! ;)

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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91

This is a lovely Yunnan. The taste is smooth and there is an underlying creamy, caramel-y sweetness that is very nicely played against the other notes in this tea. I am tasting notes of spice – almost peppery. Beautifully autumnal.

I’m off to write a review for this for the SororiTEA Sisters blog!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
T.C.

Cool! Comment back with the link to the blog post?

LiberTEAS

Of course… it will publish this Thursday at 6:00 pm (Eastern Time). :)

LiberTEAS

Hey Taylor: Just to let you know that the review just published! Link:
http://sororiteasisters.com/2010/09/30/organic-golden-yunnan-black-tea-from-arbor-teas/

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91

Another evaluation sample from Arbor Teas. The dry leaf has the typical loose pu-erh look and feel: smallish curls of leaf, a somewhat dusky brownish/orange color, and earthy smell without being overpowering.

I gave it about six minutes to see how it would take a fairly long first steep, and it came out like a champ. Dark, opaque brownish red liquor and a smooth, almost malty aroma. The taste is wonderful – there’s a natural sweetness to it that I haven’t found in any other pu-erhs. It really tastes like I’d put some sugar in it. It has a very full flavor but it is not bitter – the earthiness is deep and very satisfying. One of the best pu-erhs I’ve tasted!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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77

I only had a sample but I may have to change that. I like it. It is a very smooth tea with a little woody flavor, but also nuts and cocoa. I had it with my buttered toast and bacon this morning. Very nice.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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97

This is a winner! Light and a subtle plum taste. Not tart at all. I had this warm but I am sure this would be great iced…I am definitely ordering this one. Wish more companies provided flavored oolongs.

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62

This tea is something I would add to my list of regular morning tea’s I would drink on my 45 minute commute to work. I’ve had to try it twice two different days to fully appreciate the taste of the tea. At first taste, the flavor of it is plain, not particularly strong, and with no extra flairs. It leaves behind a subtle smoky aftertaste behind. After drinking the tea for a while the full flavor of the tea is apparent, gentle and easy to drink. It makes a good tea to have on the run because it is easy to drink (I personally don’t like trying to quickly drink something that is super strong).

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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89

I feel like I shouldn’t be the first one to review this tea, because in a minute, I am going to come off sounding like an enormous newbie. This is my first real pu-erh, as the cheap bagged chrysanthemum blend by Asian Taste I tried earlier doesn’t count. (Even though it was very tasty.)

Upon first sniff, I was a little intimidated. Not to be offensive, but this tea smells exactly like fish food to my inexperienced senses. As it brewed, I was stunned at how dark it became. I had never seen tea so black before, almost like coffee. It had a dark ambery red tint to it as well. I was so intrigued at this point. And the liquor itself lost the fishy scent.

For a tea this dark, I would never have expected it to be so smooth! It’s not bitter or sharp at all, and hardly astringent. It just tastes like mellow, good black tea. I really like it. It has a sort of taste in it that I can’t identify… it’s a sort of “aged” flavor that’s hard to describe. There’s also something in this that sort of reminds me of pekoe. Anyway, I think it’s great! And the caffeine content makes it a lot of fun. Honey would compliment it well, I think. EDIT: I think I’ve tasted something like this before in a bottled Thai tea.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec
Auggy

I’m always surprised by how much cooked pu-erh smells like the dry food we feed our cats… both are very pier-like.

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74

I’m fairly over-caffeinated right now after about 2L of tea today and not all that much food. But I’m having so much fun with my new teas that I’m just going to ignore the slight tremor in my hands because I really wanted to get to this tea today. Good thing I don’t need to go to sleep early tonight!

These leaves are (relatively) larger and not as uniform as CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Anhui Keemun. Any chance there is a correspondence between leaf size and tea quality?

The dry leaves smell very… starchy? Bready? Toasty? It’s very different from Adagio’s Anhui Keemun but is still attractive. Brewed up, it smells smoky and starchy. I’m oddly reminded of plantains. And something raw/green that reminds me of a Nilgiri.

The taste managed to surprise me. Based on the smell, I was expecting something a little rough and raw tasting. But it’s very sweet – a grain-type sweetness – and notes that alternately remind me of coffee and something almost floral/fresh. There is an overall dryness to the tea – it’s not very strong but it is solidly there and makes me think of a red wine aftertaste. As it cools, I get something that is more Nilgiri like, but more pleasant than any Nilgiri I’ve had.

It’s not what I was expecting with a Keemun but I did manage to drink it quickly. I can’t say I’d reach for this when in a Keemun mood, but I don’t think it’d be totally ignored in my pantry either.

ETA: Ah-ha! I just figured out what that green/raw-ish taste reminds me of – a green rooibos! Seriously, it does! (And green rooibos is the next tea up because I do not need any more caffeine today!)
3g/8oz

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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92

More new tea! This one from Arbor Teas’ fair trade selection. When I first started drinking tea a few years ago, it seemed like there were only about three fair trade and five organic teas. Anywhere. And they were all kind of meh tasting but cost twice as much as normal teas. So when I went to see what samples I might want to try from Arbor Teas, I really figured that they wouldn’t have that many options. Dude, they have a lot. Seriously, have I been that far out of the Fair Trade/Organic tea loop or were there always lots of options and I just didn’t know where to look?

Anyway, I’m really excited to try this one, mostly because the only green pu-erh I’ve tried was CTG’s Sticky Rice one which gave me the idea I might actually like green pu-erhs. This one will be the ultimate test to see if I really do!

First off, the tuo-cha is surprisingly heavy so I broke it in half for my 10oz mug. The leaves are soft and furry and look somewhat Silver Needle-like. I did a rinse then steeped for about 30s. The liquor is very light and smells softly honeyed/musty.

The taste is delightfully surprising – sweetly musty, soft, smooth and earthy but light, not heavy/syrupy earthy like a cooked pu-erh. There are hints of hay in the sweetness and sometimes a faint honey. The aftertaste is deliciously nectar-y and pretty. I was worried about the possibility of bitterness (since CTG’s has a tendency to get bitter if you steep even slightly too long) but there is no hint of bitterness or even any astringency here – it’s very smooth. The lack of bitterness makes me think I might steep it just a little longer next time to get a bit stronger flavor but then I think that for something like this, a fainter first steep isn’t unusual.

The second steep (40s) is much darker and has an allover stronger scent and flavor, but it is just as pretty – lovely musty, sweet, honeyed smoothness with a bit of a richer flavor than the first steep and a hint of more normal pu-erh earthy but still not the overly sweet syrupy earthy that is just too much for me. There also seems to be a fair amount of honey in the aftertaste. It actually reminds me of a tasty Silver Needle tea. I’m not sure if that’s a normal green pu-erh taste but honestly, I don’t really care because this is the type of pu-erh I can totally get behind.

The third steep (~45s) is smooth and rich and earthy and nectary and a little heavier but not too heavy… There’s an almost… bready note to it too? Kind of like wheat bread or perhaps toast? It’s hard to really peg but it’s super-tasty.
~1/2 tuo-cha/10oz

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
cody

I need to order from Arbor Teas again. I live in the city (Ann Arbor) so they deliver to my door for free. :)

Thomas Smith

Young, pure bud sheng cha is just half a step (if not less) away from a silver needle style white tea, so the similarities you’re drawing are totally justified.

Fair Trade really didn’t have a presence in tea in China until recently and has largely spread from a single project/organization in Yunnan. Really, it isn’t applicable for most teas in China (private sellers are ineligible – only coops qualify – and most tea is sold through middlemen). However, it’s exactly the kind of program that needs to be applied in Assam and Dooars in India and should probably start a presence in Africa (other than the rooibos growing coops) as well.

Auggy

Thomas, you are a wealth of tea information! And glad to know about the similarity to a SN white – makes me feel not so crazy! :)
I just finished the book The Empire of Tea and that (along with a few other things I’ve read) has definitely made it hit home how important things like Fair Trade teas are.

Thomas Smith

You should give Liquid Jade a looksee as well!

I generally don’t put much thought into Fair Trade for tea (or even coffee, where it’s more applicable), since I am one of those types that wants a direct traceable line from a single farmer/producer or small village organisation to the consumer rather than a larger coop that blends material. However, the atrocities in Assam’s tea industry and the fact that one of the only outlets for organic tea from the region is owned by one of the major perpetrators in human right’s negligence as well as pollution from tea farming in the entire tea industry really angers me. It’s a big part of why I rarely buy Assams anymore even if they are really good. It’s strange to me to think that India has more issues in this arena than China (in tea, anyway). Fair Trade coupled with government programs in China have really worked to better the lives of some of the generally impoverished communities by bolstering tea production, though it has taken a toll on the environment. Transfair really needs to mobilize in Northern India. There are organisations waiting and trying to work it out on their own – they just need the outlet to get things moving.

Auggy

Awesome – I will have to check that out. It looks like it will be a bit more engaging than The Empire of Tea which, while it had interesting info, tended to be pretty darn dry…

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83

I was a little wary of this tea, mostly because I’ve tried a mint tea before and was appalled. But when I saw it on the sample list, I decided to go for it anyway. I love the taste of spearmint, so I figured I would try it again. (This time from a reputable source…)

I’m very glad I did. This tea is milder than I expected, but in a good way. It’s not overpowering at all, as I was sort of expecting to be hit by it like a stick of 5 gum. No, this is smooth and fresh tasting, almost as if there was fresh mint used instead of dried. The gunpowder green tea’s taste itself is overshadowed by the mint, but I don’t mind. It’s especially soothing since I’ve had a sore throat all day. It was nice coming home from working a double to a cup of this on the couch.

It leaves a very clean feeling in the mouth, sort of like the feeling after brushing your teeth. Again, another winner from Arbor Teas’ Fair Trade department. I could see myself keeping this around for when I want a cup before bed.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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